In honor of ''Bewitched,'' we pick the five best and five worst big-screen remakes of television classics

By Michael Slezak
June 25, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Brady Bunch Movie: Everett Collection
type
  • Movie
Genre

Image credit: Brady Bunch Movie: Everett Collection

The Brady Bunch Movie

(1995)

”The Brady Bunch Movie” is one of the best movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA Here’s the story/Of a lovely lady… Need we continue? From 1969 to 1974, the sweet, square antics of a fresh-scrubbed blended family could make you momentarily forget you’d ever heard of Vietnam or Watergate.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Transplanting the entire Brady household — right down to the paneled walls, groovy clothes, and familiar sitcom plots — into the grungy 1990s allowed director Betty Thomas to both skewer and celebrate the mass-culture wholesomeness of an earlier era.

HIGH POINT You’d need a heart of stone to resist humming along with the Bradys’ rendition of ”It’s a Sunshine Day,” though the sight of Marcia’s nose swelling before her big date is an altogether different brand of hilarious.

LESSON LEARNED Even when they’re being spoofed, beloved sitcom characters should be handled with care.

WHAT EW SAID ”The Brady Bunch Movie is a sly and witty surprise, a mainstream comedy that’s savvy enough to celebrate American pop kitsch by deconstructing it.” A-

(Read the movie review.)

S.W.A.T.

(2003)

”S.W.A.T.” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA A macho quintet of L.A.P.D. officers (all former Vietnam vets) — armed with big guns and a tricked-out van — tackled situations too rough-and-tumble for the average beat cop in this 1975-76 drama.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Nearly 30 years later, an updated team led by Samuel L. Jackson (right) and Colin Farrell (left) distinguishes itself with even bigger guns, plus a female cohort (Michelle Rodriguez) — even though the actual Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team had never included a woman. Their mission: Transporting a floppy-tressed crime lord (Olivier Martinez) who has offered $100 million to anyone who can free him from government custody.

LOW POINT Interminable climax built around a hijacked plane landing on a bridge.

LESSON LEARNED No amount of gunfire or explosions can drown out the sound of a cliché-riddled script.

WHAT EW SAID The film ”rides on the feeblest of insipid plots, is intermittently sexually and racially insensitive, fetishizes things like guns and pool cues, [and] is based on a long-forgotten TV show.” C+

(Read the DVD review.)

Image credit: The Fugitive: Everett Collection

The Fugitive

(1993)

”The Fugitive” is one of the best movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA For four top-rated seasons (1963-67), David Janssen and Barry Morse played a cat-and-mouse game as Dr. Richard Kimble, wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, and Lt. Philip Gerard, the man assigned with the task of tracking him down and sending him back to prison.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Take thrilling small-screen premise. Condense from four seasons to two hours. Add two well-regarded film stars — Harrison Ford (pictured) and Tommy Lee Jones. Direct tautly, and shoot.

HIGH POINT If you haven’t seen the riveting scene where Ford makes some interesting choices high atop a roaring dam, well, we don’t want to be the ones to ruin it for you.

LESSON LEARNED A familiar tale can still thrill audiences, as long as the script, direction, and performances are near flawless.

WHAT EW SAID ”The Fugitive is proof, if any were needed, that a thriller is more thrilling when we can actually believe our eyes…. The movie becomes an existential hide-and-seek contest, a paranoid comedy of missed connections.” A-

(Read the movie review.)

Scooby-Doo

(2002)

”Scooby-Doo” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA In the 1969-72 Saturday-morning series, cartoon kids Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Fred (and their titular talking dog) investigated one wacky supernatural phenomenon after the next, with the same result nearly every time: It was only a hapless bad guy up to no-good tricks.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Now a live-action foursome — from left, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, and Freddie Prinze Jr. — with a vaguely unsettling CGI Scooby, the team investigates wacky supernatural phenomena at an island theme park.

LOW POINTS Scooby and Shaggy extract themselves from shackles made of plastic meats; the wretched Scrappy-Doo urinates on Daphne (Gellar).

LESSONS LEARNED It’s hard to turn an animated favorite into an enjoyable, big-budget, live-action vehicle. (See The Flintstones.) It’s even tougher when flip-flopping between kiddie antics and adult in-jokes.

WHAT EW SAID ”The whole enterprise is cranked up to a squealing pitch somewhere between ‘Zoinks’ and ‘Relp!’ ” C-

(Read the movie review.)

Image credit: Charlie’s Angels: Everett Collection

Charlie’s Angels

(2000)

”Charlie’s Angels” is one of the best movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA A paper-thin action series (1976-81) about three beautiful female private investigators who spent plenty of time in alluring undercover guises while working for a shadowy boss.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER All of the series’ key ingredients — cooked up with liberal amounts of postmillennial attitude, ferocious martial artistry, and a trio of winning heroines (from left, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore) — make for a tasty soufflé of an action flick.

HIGH POINTS While Diaz’s ”Baby Got Back” dance routine is delightful, and Liu’s escape from death in a trailer is thrilling, nothing tops the sight of Barrymore single-handedly trouncing a group of baddies — with her hands literally tied behind her back.

LESSON LEARNED A film can succeed by being both mindless and smart.

WHAT EW SAID ”A fizzy, fashion-deep, tongue-in-cheek thriller that’s perhaps the first motion picture to make beating the unholy crap out of bad guys as adorable as it is exciting.” B

(Read the movie review.)

Image credit: Lost in Space: Everett Collection

Lost in Space

(1998)

”Lost in Space” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA The 1965-68 tale of a family whose spaceship is sabotaged by an evil doctor, leaving them all, well, lost in an outer space filled with good-enough-for-TV special effects and plenty of intergalactic peril.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER A bigger budget — and loftier ambitions — result in amped-up F/X, a back story about the family patriarch (William Hurt) being an absentee dad (gah!), and roughly .08 percent of the series’ fun.

LOW POINT Although Gary Oldman (right, with Matt LeBlanc) redefines the term ”chewing the scenery” with a ham-tastic turn as the villainous Dr. Smith, it’s the faux-cute antics of the Sméagol-like alien Blarp that are most irritating.

LESSON LEARNED Sometimes cheesy childhood entertainment is better left as a memory.

WHAT EW SAID ”Deadly despite decent special effects…. The kiddie-geared TV show had more suspense.” D+

(Read the DVD review.)

Image credit: Addams Family Value: Everett Collection

Addams Family Values

(1993)

”Addams Family Values” is one of the best movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA The light 1964-66 comedy about a clan of ghoulish outcasts living in a creepy mansion was based on characters created by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER This broad, often riotous sequel to 1991’s The Addams Family plays on the contrast between the darkly funny Addamses (led by parents Raul Julia and Angelica Huston) and their blond, insufferably perky antagonists.

HIGH POINT A toss-up: either the macabre attempts by Wednesday (a wicked Christina Ricci, left) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman, right) to kill their baby brother or their incendiary performance at a summer-camp pageant. A close third? Gomez and Morticia’s fiery tango.

LESSON LEARNED Trust your source: This was the first screen treatment of the family that fully exploited their dark side.

WHAT EW SAID ”Wittier and more consistent than the first Addams Family movie…. Paul Rudnick’s script offers sharp-edged variations on the topsy-turvy Addams worldview.” B

(Read the movie review.)

The Wild Wild West

(1999)

”The Wild Wild West” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA On CBS from 1965 to 1970, Robert Conrad donned a bolero jacket and snug pants to portray West… James West, the James Bond of the cowboy set. His sidekick, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), was the go-to guy for gadgets and disguises.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Featuring the same characters as its TV counterpart, right down to President Ulysses S. Grant and the villainous Dr. Arliss Loveless, the big-budget summer stinker made one key change through casting: Box office champ Will Smith (right, with Kevin Kline as Artemus) turned West into an African-American cowboy.

LOW POINTS So many to choose from, since Kenneth Branagh’s cacklingly fey drawl ruined all of his scenes as Loveless, especially a final set piece staged in a massive tarantula-shaped fighting machine. Of course, the film’s endless string of winking sex gags (Smith and Kline massaging each other’s fake breasts, for example) fell flat, too.

LESSON LEARNED Sometimes, it really pays to read the reviews, even for big-budget action vehicles.

WHAT EW SAID ”Wild Wild West is a movie that figures out how to go thud more often, and in more decadently extravagant ways, than just about any would-be blockbuster since Hudson Hawk. . . . In this noisy, joyless, bizarrely static fiasco, every element on screen . . . seems to let the air out of the one before it.” D+

(Read the movie review.)

Image credit: The Untouchables: Everett Collection

The Untouchables

(1987)

”The Untouchables” is one of the best movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL TV FORMULA Good versus bad was the name of the game, and unprecedented TV violence was part of the appeal, in this fictionalized 1959-63 drama about Treasury Department operative Eliot Ness’ efforts to take down the powerful crime bosses of the 1930s.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER While Ness had already put away Al Capone at the start of ABC’s four-season series, the famed mobster (played here by Robert De Niro) is the main target of Kevin Costner’s movie hero.

HIGH POINTS De Niro’s charming, then menacing speech about baseball and the importance of teamwork makes his Capone one of the best screen mob villains ever, but it’s the scene with the baby stroller in midst of a bloody shootout that elevates Brian De Palma’s film to classic status.

LESSON LEARNED Watching principled cops take on the baddies never goes out of style.

WHAT EW SAID ”The Prohibition-era sets are epic, the actors are outfitted in Armani, and the action (Al Capone’s firing technique makes Donald Trump look like a cream puff) is just as riveting 17 years later.” A-

(Read the DVD review.)

Image credit: Car 54 Where Are You?: Alan Markfield

Car 54, Where Are You?

(1994)

”Car 54, Where Are You?” is one of the worst movies based on TV shows

ORIGINAL FORMULA This NBC sitcom about a quirky pair of Bronx cops lasted only two seasons (1961-1963), but grew in popularity through the magic of reruns.

BIG-SCREEN MAKEOVER Given an unfortunate ’90s edge, the show’s central characters became sex-crazed frat boys — with one of them (John McGinley, left) desperate to lose his virginity.

LOW POINT While you’ll need to cover your eyes (and ears) to get through the sex scene between David ”Buster Poindexter” Johansen (right) and Rosie O’Donnell, it’s the former’s duet with a rapping animated canary that’ll have you reaching for the Pepto.

LESSON LEARNED When the word update means turning something sweet and naive into a crass, vulgar mess, stay home and watch a rerun.

WHAT EW SAID ”This loud, garish update of the campy ’60s sitcom is a brainless floparooney. Call 911.” D-

(Read the movie review.)

Advertisement

Comments



EDIT POST