Ranking The Best and Worst Films Based on TV Shows
With Land of the Lost coming out this Friday– and early critical buzz seeming lukewarm at best– it reminded me of all of the other misguided film adaptations of old television shows there have been. However, in the midst of all the rubbish, there are I believe ten films based on these nostalgic programs worth watching. In this article, I will list the ten worst films based on TV shows, followed by the ten best (and Youtube trailers or clips, just because). Rules? Only one– they must be adaptations, not versions of the TV show on the big screen (a.k.a. there must be a different cast… sorry, The Muppet Movie). Without any further ado, the worst and best films based on television shows.
10. Lost in Space- Between the annoying CGI “cute” alien sidekick, the abrupt ending (presumably for a sequel which blissfully never arrived), and the lame attempt at making Matt LeBlanc an action star, this bloated adaptation is pretty boring despite expensive effects and hammy acting by Gary Oldman.
9. S.W.A.T.- Enormously run-of-the-mill, it’s the movie that effectively proved Colin Farrell’s intensity was not enough to carry a film. Even Samuel L. Jackson is bored in it. The only one having any fun– the Frenchman from Unfaithful as the world’s most devious French terrorist. “One hundred meeeeeellion dollarrrrrrrrs!”
8. Get Smart- Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart seemed brilliant in theory. It’s a shame the execution was so dreary. Note to film producers: the original Get Smart wasn’t full of giant expensive action set pieces… and the original Get Smart was good.
7. The Dukes of Hazzard- This is no lie– a friend of mine actually got physically ill during The Dukes of Hazzard. The only reason it’s so high on the list is due to Willie Nelson and Burt Reynolds’ cameos and Jessica Simpson’s wardrobe. But wow, her acting is PAINFUL.
6. Bewitched- Let’s hope Will Ferrell cranked it up a notch for his most recent TV-to-film project. He looks bored here. I looked even more bored in the audience watching it.
5. I Spy- Hey studio execs! Have I got a pitch for you! Remember that show I Spy? We’ll make a movie version, minus everything from the original, and instead have Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy do their respective tired shticks for ninety minutes!
4. Rocky and Bullwinkle- I like the casting of the villains, but it’s so bad that when we get to Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader doing a “Are you talkin’ to me?” parody, I wondered (a) what kind of gambling debt had he accrued to be in this picture and (b) what kids in the audience could possibly understand a Taxi Driver reference.
3. Car 54, Where are You?- If this seems bad just from a conceptual standpoint, consider that their supporting cast is headlined by Fran Drescher and Rosie O’Donnell. The only way I would’ve seen that movie in theaters is if AMC gave out free earplugs with their popcorn.
2. The Avengers- Looking for the worst Sean Connery performance of all time? Look no further. This movie tries so hard to be hip and ironic that it instead reeks of desperation. It also has pretty lousy effects for how much it reportedly cost.
1. Wild Wild West- Just thinking about this movie makes me cringe. Not only is it a waste of talent and money, but it’s simply mean-spirited. What genius thought that summer fun meant having a black man and a quadriplegic hurl offensive insults at each other as if it were witty banter? And the giant spider… just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
10. The Flintstones- It’s not a great movie, but it captures the campy flavor of the original, with great sets and some funny cameos.
9. Starsky and Hutch- A very tongue-in-cheek adaptation, which is admittedly hit-and-miss, but the hits can be very funny, such as a Will Ferrell cameo (see? he can be in good TV-to-film works!) and a reference to David Soul’s “Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby” during a cocaine binge.
8. Transformers- Ooh, I feel like I’m gonna catch some flak for this one. It’s dumb, but no dumber than the original cartoons. Plus, the special effects are extraordinary. The sequel looks like it should be more of the same– I personally can’t wait.
7. The Addams Family- A successful earnest adaptation. Perfectly cast and perfectly executed, delivering the simple joys of The Addams Family in film form. Bonus points for Christopher Lloyd getting to unleash his kookiness as Uncle Fester.
6. The Brady Bunch Movie- Who would’ve thought this could have been so funny? Another perfectly cast and perfectly executed, delivered with a wink and a nudge to the audience, despite the actors playing the Bradys never giving away that they’re in on the joke. The best film of director Betty Thomas’ career (note: she’s also responsible for I Spy and an upcoming film based on Dallas).
5. Maverick- Few directors consistently deliver fun films better than Richard Donner. Maverick is perhaps the quintessential poker film, and one of the best Westerns of the past twenty years.
4. George of the Jungle- The best film in terms of toeing the line between earnest adaptation and ironic ribbing of the conventions of the old show. Brendan Fraser was a charming and funny George, showing the flair for balancing comedy and action that made him the bankable leading man he is today.
3. The Untouchables- Now we get into the legitimately great movies. Brian DePalma has two home runs in the top three, with this film containing the best acting on this list. Looking for the best Sean Connery performance of all time? It might be right here. You also have to love Robert DeNiro’s immensely quotable Al Capone. “I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND!”
2. Mission: Impossible- The summer this came out, Twister, Independence Day, and Mission: Impossible were the three big hit movies. This one has stood the test of time the best. DePalma uses Tom Cruise’s trademark intensity to set a non-stop edge-of-your-seat tone, and the now-oft-parodied scene where he dangles from the wire into the computer room is still a classic.
1. The Fugitive- “I DIDN’T KILL MY WIFE.” This is still one of the best action-thrillers of the last twenty years, a flawlessly composed piece of blockbuster, with Harrison Ford at his frazzled and charming best, and Tommy Lee Jones as the perfect counterpart with his no-nonsense style. If they released this in multiplexes today, despite the lack of CGI and big explosions, it would still be better than nearly everything out.