In the wake of the record setting campaign to give Veronica Mars a movie as well as the heavily rumored Arrested Development movie coming to fruition, I decided to make a list of my personal Top 10 movie adaptations of television shows. I had to sift through a lot of crap (can you believe the 90’s saw film adaptations of The Little Rascals, Leave It to Beaver AND Dennis the Menace? Thank God for Hollywood discovering comic books!) but I have come up with a list sure to alienate and infuriate. So without further ado…
Questionable Mention: Jackass: The Movie – Jackass is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. However, I’m not sure I can include this movie (or the sequels) because it’s not really a scripted show or movie.
10. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie – This movie is on the list because I love MST3K and this movie is basically the same as the TV show but with a slightly bigger budget and a slightly more recognizable movie (This Island Earth). If you liked the show, you’ll like the movie. Its as simple as that.
9. Starsky & Hutch – I was prepared to hate this movie, but not because of some attachment to the iconic 70’s buddy cop detective show. It just seemed like another dumb adaptation of the TV show but this time starring the “Frat Pack” members Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Vince Vaughn. To be fair, I tend to like their movies, but most of those are original. I had my reservations on an adaptation. However, I actually liked it. I mean, it isn’t cinematic brilliance, but it made me laugh repeatedly. In fact, it features one of my all-time favorite Will Ferrell moments with him in the prison. Also, Snoop Dogg was a great choice to play Huggy Bear. The movie was surprisingly funny.
8. The Untouchables – Not my favorite Brian DePalma gangster flick (“Say hello to my…” yeah, you get it), but not bad. Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Al Capone became pretty legendary in this film, despite him really not being in the movie long. I figure it was the baseball bat scene that cemented it. Kevin Costner gave his usual monotonic performance, which as Elliot Ness actually worked. A young Andy Garcia was a real stand-out and Sean Connery proved to the world that a Scottish accent can pass for Irish (he already proved it with Spanish and 3 years later proved it with Russian!).
7. The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy – Some didn’t like this movie, mainly due to expectations of certain characters appearing or it being exactly like the sketch comedy show, but I loved it. It had good characters, a good plot and was really funny. Plus, the movie features a young Brendan Fraser and an appearance by Paul Bellini! (Those who have never seen Kids in the Hall will have no idea why that last guy was worth mentioning.)
6. The Addams Family – The good news… this movie was really funny, like a lot better than it should have been. The bad news… I blame this movie for launching a slew of crappy TV sitcom adaptation movies like Adam 12, My Favorite Martian... thank God Bobcat Goldthwait killed any chances of a Mr. Ed movie with Hot To Trot. Anyways, Addams Family had a lot of good going for it. A brilliant cast, good sets and a script that incorporated silly humor from the show as well as the sarcastic irreverent humor necessary to make the movie work in our world. The sequel was… okay. It was really just a lot of the same, even having a plot centering on Uncle Fester being an outsider to the family again. There was at least one more direct to video sequel with a different cast but all copies of those films should be burned. Just focus on the first movie.
5. Dragnet – Dragnet really paved the way for the aforementioned Starsky & Hutch adaptation, but this one was better. For one thing, the original Dragnet was a straight as an arrow police program with almost no comedic relief and main characters who talked in the same serious tone every minute of every episode. The adaptation, to my knowledge, was something that had never been done before… to make a parody film of a serious show. Dragnet was hilarious, featuring a Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks (back when both were still funny) and having one of the weirdest villainous schemes I have ever seen.
4. Serenity – I wanted to like Firefly, but found that too often it just lagged and dragged. Serenity was the kick ass "fight the power" science fiction work that I wanted to see all along. It featured a great plot, awesome action sequences and stand-out special effects. Unfortunately, it flopped. At least it provided some closure to the story.
3. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! – This was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Unlike many movies with the style of screwy comedy and sight gags that The Naked Gun uses, this movie is still very re-watchable. Plus, it featured Ricardo Montabalm as the bad guy! How can you go wrong? Okay, O.J. Simpson is one of the good guys… but at the time he was still beloved! Plus, he gets hit by a bus, so there you go. But seriously, Leslie Neilsen’s comedic timing was genius. I miss him.
2. Star Trek (the entire movie franchise) – Some may not like that I gave the almighty Trek franchise the silver medal, but my reasoning is sound. For every good movie, there were 2 bad ones. Honestly, the best Next Generation film was First Contact and it wasn’t really that good. But I definitely give Star Trek 2nd place on this list for Wrath of Khan alone. Maybe the Abrams films will even out the balance, but my guess is that good ol’ J.J. will soon hand off the franchise to someone else so he can do Star Wars.
1. The Fugitive – This movie was pretty much perfection. I never saw the series, but I can tell the scriptwriters really got it. Harrison Ford gave one of his best performances and Tommy Lee Jones made a name for himself. The suspense is non-stop and the action was intense. The Fugitive felt like if you took an entire storyline of a 1940’s serial and condensed it into one seamless feature length film. To me, this film really went above and beyond the ordinary TV show turned movie adaptation. I think it is easily on par with the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece action-thriller North by Northwest… which is high praise from a Hitchcock fan such as myself.