6. “Fat Albert” (2004)
The great Bill Cosby based the original cartoon series on his friends from his childhood, whom he talked about often in his stand-up comedy, and it was always chock full of music and fun, and if you weren’t careful, you’d always learn something before it was done. Hey, hey, hey, you’re gonna have a good time. However, when the elder and a bit farther ‘out there’ Cosby revisited the characters for a 2004 movie adaptation, he got extremely self-referential – having the cartoon burst out of the television and run around in the modern world not as fully-formed human beings, but as cartoons who didn’t exist outside of the parameters of the show. Dumb Donald didn’t have a face under his goofy purple hat-mask, for example. They even meet Cosby himself, and all his old real-life friends – even visiting the grave of the real Fat Albert. To say it was confused in tone would be an understatement, but Kenan Thompson is relentlessly likeable anyway.
7. “Josie and the Pussycats” (2001)
Somehow, Archie Comics have adapted to the times and are still supermarket-line impulse buys, and this all-girl rock band began as a part of Dan DeCarlo’s Riverdale universe, becoming a short-lived cartoon in 1970. The 2001 update gave us Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid in the lead rocker roles and became a full-on satire of the music industry at the time and showbiz in general, complete with a lame boy band populated by Seth Green, Breckin Meyer and Donald Faison, not to mention Parker Posey as a hilariously overboard manager.
8. “Land of the Lost” (2009)
Will Ferrell’s big-budget 2009 reinvention of the extremely cheesily-animated 1974 Sid & Marty Krofft science fiction kids’ series had its moments, although it didn’t fare too well at the box office. The dinosaurs and other creatures in the mysterious alternate-reality world were impressive, and rarely are those kinds of effects employed in the service of comedy, and given the ‘flop’ status, it’s not likely they will be again anytime soon. The Kroffts were producers on this version, too, but at times the film seemed openly hostile towards itself – or perhaps that was just Ferrell’s pompous Rick Marshall and his over-the-top vitriol towards the little primate guy Cha-Ka.
9. “The Dukes of Hazzard” (2005)
One might argue that this one isn’t entirely ironic, since the 2005 film actually seemed to take itself a little more seriously – or at least a little more realistically – than the original early 1980s action-comedy about well-meaning outlaw rednecks jumping creeks in their Dodge Charger while banjos constantly play. Turning James Best’s bumbling madman Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane into an M.C. Gainey hardass and Sorrell Booke’s corpulent
blowhard Boss Hogg into the slicker, smoother Burt Reynolds are examples of that. However, Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse, the writing-off of the Confederate flag on the roof of the General Lee to the weirdness of Cooter (David Koechner), and someone actually mocking Hogg for wearing white after Labor Day make it firmly ironical in its ironicality, y’all.
10. “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” (2000)
This one pretty much mandated an ironic take, as the beloved classic cartoon was built on ingenious self-mocking, fourth-wall-breaking antics already before the attempt to spin a little Who Framed Roger Rabbit? magic onto it came to pass in 2000. The result is a mixed bag, featuring Robert De Niro poking fun at his Taxi Driver lines as Fearless Leader, Jason Alexander as Boris and Rene Russo as Natasha, while Moose and Squirrel remained their own animated selves in the real world. It’s certainly a weird one – but Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose always were a little off-kilter.