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Botched cartoon-based live-action films

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Whether it's hitting on nostalgia or trying to reach an entirely new market, Hollywood tends to reboot or rework well-known cartoon properties into new movies, for better or worse. A trend that has gained some popularity in the 21st century is taking animated TV shows, children's literature and comics that feature animal characters, video games also featuring animal characters, toys, novelty bands (in Alvin's instances), or movies and adapting them into live-action movies (remaking in the case of movies).

This was a major trend of making live action adaptations of certain properties during 1980-2013 (especially between 2007-2011), but the trend made a major resurgence since 2019, especially during the age of capitalizing on nostalgia since the mid to late 2010s and continuing throughout the 2020s.

Why Many Of Them Suck

  1. To write down the first problem, similar to Video game movie adaptations, the main problem is that many of them have a very poor grasp of the source material. For example:
    • The Smurfs is set in New York City and it's sequel is set in Paris, despite the source material typically being set in a forest sometime during medieval times.
    • In the case of the first Garfield movie, some of the characters (like Nermal, Odie, and Arlene) look and act almost nothing like they do in the source material.
    • In Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers (despite being a good movie), Chip and Dale don't even sound high pitched like they did in the show of the same name and all the other source material containing the titular characters. Instead, the celebrity voices just use their normal sounding voice, which even the four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies avoided. However, Chip and Dale at least do briefly get to use their high pitched voices in some scenes.
  2. Their movies are heavily focused on generic human characters, instead of the main protagonists. For example:
    • The Transformers movies (arguably the biggest offender) have the titular robots serve in the background (with the Decepticons especially often serving as cannon fodder) for some dumb generic everyman whom the audience are suppose to identify with, but comes off as insufferably obnoxious to watch on screen. Not to mention that most of the action sequence has the military (minus Age of Extinction) doing all the work in taking down the Decepticons, instead of the Autobots.
    • Both the animated and live-action Tom & Jerry movies, have the titular cat and mouse bossed aside in favor for some blonde hair girl, whose story arcs are completely separated from the pair, making Tom and Jerry feel completely out of place in their own movie.
    • Whilst the titular characters still get a great amount of focus in both movies, the The Smurfs duology focuses more on Patrick Winslow.
    • Yogi Bear has the titular bear himself and Boo-Boo take a back seat with most of the screen time being spent on Ranger Smith and Rachel Johnson (despite the former being mainly a supporting character in the original cartoon).
  3. The CGI for animated characters can look really ugly, uncanny and sometimes, the characters won't even look like their original counterparts. Thankfully, this is not too common nowadays.
  4. Almost all of them tend to replace the original characters' voice actors with popular celebrities simply to get audiences to watch the movie. For example, singer Katy Perry out of all people was picked to voice Smurfette in the Smurfs movies, though to be fair, Demi Lovato, another pop singer, voiced her in the 2017 animated reboot, The Lost Village, four years after the second (and last) live action Smurfs movie.
  5. Most of these movies take place in a popular American city instead of their established locations from the source material, with New York City being the best example.
  6. They tend to contain product placements, and even dated references from the time in an attempt to be hip with the kids.
  7. Their movies have overused of pop-culture songs that were too unfitting for certain scenes.
  8. Some of them flanderized established characters, to a point where their change in personality for the worse can even ruin them.
  9. Sometimes, the cartoon shows companies are usually have little to no involvement with these movies, and eventually disliked them.
  10. A lot of times, directors and film studios that are involved were never fans of the material that they are adapting and are just using it for easy money. For example:
    • Michael Bay at first never intend on doing a Transformers movie, but wanted to work with Stephen Spielberg, who was an executive producer, and continued on making sequels after the original's success regardless of the quality as long as it's making puddles of money.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Not all the movies have poor grasp of the source material. Some examples are Popeye, Transformers, the first two 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies (although the first was mostly inspired by the original Mirage Comics), Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, Tom & Jerry (depending on your view), Bumblebee, Christopher Robin, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, etc.
  2. Some of their designs stay faithful to the source material without looking creepy, such as the titular protagonists in Tom & Jerry (2021) for example, by using cell shaded CGI instead of using the photorealistic art style to animate them.
  3. Some of the end credits in certain movies contains hand-drawn animation that is faithful to the shows (or books in some cases). Even in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, there's a scene during the movie that contains similar animation to the show.

How To Make A Good Live-Action Film Based On A Cartoon

  1. Make sure that it's faithful to the original source material.
  2. Hire a good set of writers, mainly writers that are both huge fans of the original source material and truly understand the source material to heart really well or writers from the original source material (unless they've died).
  3. Have actual effort and heart put to it.
  4. Don't make the animated characters look creepy while retaining a photorealistic art style for them.
  5. Focus more on the main characters than any of the new human ones written specifically for these adaptations.
  6. If you wanted to, animate the credits to have it look faithful to the art style of the source material.

Notable Offenders

NOTE: Do not add Thomas and the Magic Railroad, or Barney's Great Adventure on the list, as the shows they were based on aren't technically cartoons, despite there being animated versions made later on for the former.

  1. The Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise
  2. Clifford the Big Red Dog
  3. Fat Albert
  4. A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!
  5. A Fairly Odd Christmas
  6. A Fairly Odd Summer
  7. Dudley Do-Right
  8. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
  9. Underdog
  10. Dragonball: Evolution
  11. Snake Eyes
  12. Ben 10: Race Against Time
  13. Casper: A Spirited Beginning
  14. Casper Meets Wendy
  15. Mr. Magoo
  16. Max Steel
  17. Masters of the Universe
  18. The Flintstones (1994)
  19. The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
  20. Garfield: The Movie
  21. Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
  22. Inspector Gadget
  23. Inspector Gadget 2
  24. Jem and the Holograms
  25. Bratz
  26. Ninja Legend: High School Battle
  27. Kim Possible
  28. The Last Airbender (arguably the worst offender)
  29. A Loud House Christmas
  30. Scooby-Doo (2002)
  31. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
  32. Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins
  33. The Smurfs duology
  34. Peter Rabbit
  35. George of the Jungle 2
  36. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  37. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  38. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  39. Transformers: The Last Knight
  40. Yogi Bear
  41. Space Jam: A New Legacy
  42. Woody Woodpecker
  43. The Cat in the Hat (2003) (Arguably one of the worst offenders)
  44. Death Note (2017)
  45. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Good Examples Of Live-Action Films Based On Cartoons

  1. Popeye
  2. Paddington
  3. Paddington 2
  4. Ben 10: Alien Swarm
  5. Bleach
  6. Bumblebee
  7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  8. Casper
  9. Gintama (2017)
  10. George of the Jungle
  11. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
  12. Hook
  13. Space Jam
  14. Speed Racer
  15. The Addams Family
  16. Addams Family Values
  17. The Jungle Book (2016)
  18. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
  19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
  20. Transformers
  21. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  22. Looney Tunes: Back In Action
  23. Josie and the Pussycats
  24. Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
  25. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  26. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  27. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days


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