Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cartoons to Live-Action

Someone commented on cartoons being made into live-action. That got me to thinking about this genre. This is a mushy group. I'm going to include characters from syndicated comic strips, non-realistic comic book characters, and animated characters. The main criteria is that they are not presented in a realistic manner in their original form but were done as live-action, anyway.

This seems like a stupid idea but it can work. The Addams family began as single-panel cartoons. They worked because of the magnificent job that the creators of the TV show did in fleshing out the characters.

There was a popular series of movies based on Blondie in the 1930s and 40s. IMDB lists 26 of these.

Lil Abner was made as a life-action movie twice in 1940 and 1959. I've only seen the 1959 version but it was true to the comic strip and a critical success. It also holds up well. Much of the political commentary seems as relevant now as it did 51 years ago.

Dick Tracy also made the jump to live action and made a lot of money. It played up its comic strip roots with stylized sets and costumes.

I'm going to skip Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and the Phantom as too realistic for this genre.

The live-action Popeye suffered from several bad choices. One was to adapt the comic strip which no one remembered rather than the cartoons. The pacing was uneven. Most of the movie was very slow with half the plot taking place in the last fifteen minutes (I discovered that this is a much better movie if you skip the rest).

Some movies don't totally make the leap to live-action. Scooby Doo work pretty well because most of the elements of the cartoon were realistic. The main non-realistic part, the dog, continued to be animated. This approach has been used with kids movies like Alvin, Garfield, and Marmaduke. Adults should avoid these.

Jay Ward cartoons translate poorly to live action. Rocky and Bullwinkle was a mistake. George of the Jungle was better than it should have been, mainly because of Brendan Frasier's ability to play goofy roles.

The live action Flintstones was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but not successful enough to pay the original stars to come back. I skipped the movies so I can't comment on them.

Then there are the star vehicles. Richie Rich and Mr. Mcgoo are the two worst offenders. Mcgoo, was an especially puzzling choice since the title character is supposed to be short, bald, and half blind. None of those made the transition to the movie.

All of this reflects Hollywood's laziness in creating new characters and its belief that a familiar name is better than a good movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Addams Family TV show: 1964-66

The Munsters TV show: 1964-66

First appearence of the Inhumans: 1965.