The Worst TV-to-Movie Adaptations

Last Airbender

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Starting in the 1980s, the perpetually idea-starved hacks of Hollywood decided that there was easy money to be made in taking classic TV shows and giving them big-screen follow-ups. While some of these were awesome (The Brady Bunch, for example), others really stunk. With Entourage earning less-than-stellar reviews, here are 10 TV-to-movie adaptations that should have stuck to the small screen.

10. Fat Albert

Bill Cosby has done enough to tarnish his once-great legacy all by himself, but this deeply bizarre 2004 adaptation of his classic cartoon certainly didn’t help. SNL’s Kenan Thompson is the big guy in a bizarre metafictional tale where the animated characters jump out of the TV, become flesh and blood, and then meet their creator.

9. Mr. Magoo

There’s a special place in hell for movies that take beloved cartoons and wrench them into the awful world of live-action. Leslie Nielsen’s turn as nearsighted codger Mr. Magoo in the 1997 adaptation was grating and corny, and the flick was pulled from theaters after just two painful weeks.

8. The Avengers

No, not the Joss Whedon superhero juggernaut – this was a lamentable 1998 action flick based on a trend-setting British spy show. Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman star as John Steed and Emma Peel, who have to battle a plot to control the weather. Universal didn’t allow press screenings and the film was cut from 115 minutes to 87, creating an incoherent mess.

7. The Mod Squad

Multiracial teen crime show The Mod Squad was considered pretty progressive when it debuted in 1968, but by 1999 it was nothing more than a footnote. So of course MGM snatched up the rights for a reboot, and the result was a flick that was both boring and regressive. With a 4% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the world seems to agree with us.

6. McHale’s Navy

1997 was the nadir of the TV-to-movie phenomenon, with even relatively obscure properties like McHale’s Navy getting the treatment. The big-screen version starred Tom Arnold in the lead role, which should be a giant flashing warning sign right there. An awful script and a waste of Ernest Borgnine made this one a huge flop.

5. The Gong Show Movie

Probably the only game show that got a big-screen spinoff, The Gong Show Movie follows host Chuck Barris through a week of his life, contending with the talentless lunatics that made his ’70s variety show a success. The flick is an incoherent, unwatchable mess notable only for Jaye P. Morgan’s bare breast and a guy blowing out a candle with his farts.

4. Dudley Do-Right

Brendan Fraser starred as the titular Mountie in this awful adaptation of the Jay Ward cartoon classic, with Sarah Jessica Parker at a career low point as romantic interest Nell. The relentless slapstick and clumsy performances made this film pretty much unwatchable, and it only made back a fraction of its $70 million budget.

3. Wild Wild West

The 1965 Wild Wild West TV show was a fun melding of the dying Western genre with the new hotness of espionage thrillers, but the 1999 movie version starring Will Smith was a moribund, plodding, unfunny affair. A little bit of trivia: the giant robot spider was originally supposed to be the antagonist for producer Jon Peters’ failed Superman film.

2. Car 54, Where Are You?

Originally intended to be a musical comedy but released to theaters with all the songs cut out, this disastrous take on the ’60s sitcom sat on the studio shelf for four years after being filmed. Co-star Rosie O’Donnell has publicly asked people to never watch the movie.

1. The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan pissed off legion of devotees with his live-action adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Whether it was casting white people for Asian roles or pushing eye-straining 3D effects, the movie is considered to be one of the worst of all time. Needless to say, we won’t be getting a sequel.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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