It seems like one of the biggest trends in entertainment these days is the remake. Countless comic books, novels, classic movies and even cartoons and video games are being adapted to the big screen. The film industry is capitalizing on existing properties and fanbases, but also on nostalgia; when we see a film being made from a franchise that we loved as a child, it creates instant warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies sell tickets.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, of course. I thoroughly enjoy a heaping spoonful of nostalgia sometimes, and when adaptations are done well (like most of the current comic book movies) they can bring a whole new dimension to a favorite franchise. I'm not one to argue that Hollywood is running out of new ideas, if the old ideas are ones that I enjoy watching!
This is especially true when it comes to live-action remakes of children's animated classics. It seems that Disney plans to turn every single one of their animated films into a big screen movie, and I'm incredibly excited to see my favorite princesses given a new lease of life. My favorite Saturday morning cartoons are also getting the live-action treatment (including the upcoming Jem and the Holograms!); and while some aren't turning out quite as well as I would hope (Transformers and TMNT), I'm still happy to re-visit old favorites.
However, there are a few animated series from the 80s and 90s that are better left that way. With the huge box office successes of other adaptations, lets hope that Hollywood doesn't go overboard, and leaves these cartoons where they belong: in the retro bin of Cartoon Network!
10. Duck Tales (a-ooowooh)
While this was actually a pretty awesome show, it's definitely one that doesn't translate to live action. Essentially, the show involves the disgustingly rich Scrooge McDuck (who also has the power to dive into a pile of gold and not onto it, breaking every bone in his body) and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. Most of their adventures either involve Scrooge protecting his vast wealth from noted criminals The Beagle Boys (who manage to stay out of jail despite being possibly the most bumbling criminals ever), or going after treasure to add to said vast wealth.
While this made for amusing viewing, I'm just not sure that the world is ready for the adventures of giant, humanoid ducks. If they are, it's going to be Howard who gets a remake first!
9. Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers
Another show that wasn't bad for what it was, this cartoon follows chipmunks Chip and Dale (along with a few new friends) as they start a detective agency, dealing with cases "too small for the police to handle". What that actually means is that they work on cases for other small animals, creating what is essentially a chipmunk-themed Magnum PI.
There are a couple of reasons that this shouldn't get the live-action treatment, but the main one is that the only real thing to differentiate it from any other detective show or movie is that the characters are chipmunks. That's it. We've got plenty of those in live action already, and I'm just not sure that CGI detective rodents are a necessary improvement.
Terrifyingly, though, last year it was announced that Disney was doing just that. THR reported that a live action/CGI film based on the franchise was in development - presumably connected to the Alvin and the Chipmunks films in some way. We haven't heard anything since, so let's hope this project died somewhere along the way.
8. Care Bears
Everybody knows the Care Bears. Lovable bears live in a kingdom in the clouds, and come down to earth on "missions of caring". Despite the effort of Lord No-Heart (subtly named villains were a big thing in the 80s), they always succeeded in saving the day, and making whichever sad kid they'd zeroed in on feel better.
This is just plain adorable, sure, but it's not exactly brimming with the kind of depth and interest that makes a good two hours of watching. However, at least this would feature some humans alongside the bears, allowing it a mix of live footage and CGI. That said, I feel that Ted has cornered the big-screen market for live-action teddy bear movies... although that would make for an interesting crossover possibility!
7. Gummi Bears
The second bear-based cast on this list is Disney's Gummi Bears, a show that proves that a smart TV exec can create a show based off of absolutely anything. In this case, the child of Disney CEO Michael Eisner asked for gummi bears candy, and instead of simply giving his kid the candy, Eisner decided to pitch a cartoon about them.
The bears are magical, medieval, and live in a hollow tree. They exist to preserve the Ways of the Gummi from the humans who might want to steal their magic (I'm not making this up, I swear), and generally spend their time harvesting gummiberries and hanging out with a young boy and a princess.
While there are elements of this that could make an interesting movie - hidden magic, centuries of lore, a sacred mission, and a beautiful princess...it trips on the same stumbling block that Rescue Rangers would. They're bears. Imagine trying to watch Game of Thrones where the characters actually were wolves, lions, dragons, etc, and you'll see why high fantasy live action is a lot easier to take seriously when the majority of the characters are human.
6. The Raccoons
A Canadian cartoon with an environmental message laid on with a trowel, The Raccoons follows (you guessed it) a trio of raccoons! These particular raccoons are roommates, and are constantly coming up against Cyril Sneer, a particularly greedy aardvark who constantly wanted to tear down the forest for profit.
While the save-the-planet principles behind the show are definitely as valid now as they were then, the message needs a little more depth to really grab a viewer in a live-action movie. There is basically nothing else to this show, except for a vaguely sitcom-y feeling between Bert and his married roommates. There's just not enough there.
The only real reason that I would enjoy seeing this made into a live action film would be the hope that it might answer the ultimate question of the show; why is an Aardvark living in Canada?!
5. Thunder Cats
Halfway through the list, and we are starting to delve into the truly crazy stuff. Thundercats, a series about a race of alien humanoid cats forced to abandon their home planet is definitely just a little bit crazy. The thundercats get into various battles with their arch-enemies the Mutants - a race of humanoid animals include a snake, a vulture and a monkey (shockingly, no dogs. Clearly that would have just been too silly.). There's also a magic sword and a lot of vaguely Egyptian mythology - think He-Man but with cats.
While audiences may have shown that they are willing to accept a little bit of the bizarre with the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, battling magic space-cats may just be taking it a little too far.
4. Biker Mice From Mars
More animals in space! This time, mice with motorbikes. From Mars. (It's really all there in the title.) The show includes all the usual elements: a crew of awesome animals, an enemy crew of other animals, and a magical item to fight over. Unlike Thundercats, however, the writers of Biker Mice decided not to tax their brains overmuch coming up with the details, so the enemy are cats (Catatonians, technically) and while the mice use their magical Regenerator to make water, the cats want to use it to turn planets into litter boxes. Seriously.
I really shouldn't have to explain why this shouldn't ever become a live action movie. It's alien biker mice fighting space cats who want to turn planets into litter boxes. With many of the earlier entries on this list, I could see how a writer with vision could possibly make it work, but I'm coming up with a blank here. This is Tom and Jerry meets Star Wars, except it's not as good as that makes it sound.
A cartoon designed specifically to sell the pre-existing toys by the same name, it's no wonder that Popples was a little lacking in the plot department. The basic premise is that two human children somehow own a group of fuzzy little critters called Popples, who get up to all kinds of mischief, which the children then have to hide from their parents. It's a particularly acid-fueled take on every kid's fantasy of having a secret puppy, complete with a Popple pouch reminiscent of Mary Poppin's bag, courtesy of the fact that it leads to "hammerspace".
So... troublemaking tiny round kangaroos with quantum-physics-defying dimensional wormholes in their pouches. What about this wouldn't work in live action?!
A multicolored acid-trip of a cartoon, the Wuzzles takes place in the Land of Wuz, where all the characters are mixed up combinations of two different animals. This is essentially all there is to the show, as other than the outlandish creatures, the storylines are incredibly basic children's viewing where each episode teaches a particular lesson.
It's adorable as a children's cartoon, and the animals are a triumph of imagination over common sense, but there just isn't enough to make an animated movie, let alone a live action one.
Sister show to the Smurfs, the Snorks are a race of underwater...well, smurfs, basically. Except that they aren't blue, and they have a strange nose/antenna protruding from their heads and suggesting that the artist behind the cartoon was doing a lot of drugs. Unlike many of the other shows on this list, there is no central conflict to the Snorks, with episodes following more of a Happy Days style format. The Snorks go to football games, concerts and proms, and (like the Smurfs) seem to include the word "snork" in every other sentence.