We’re in for a treat in 2011, folks. A cute little blue treat that lives in mushrooms, sings, and occasionally gives exploding presents. No, I didn’t add anything to my coffee this morning. The Smurfs Movie is soon to be a (most likely unfortunate) reality. Those little blue bringers of joy will make their theatrical debut next year in a live action tour de force that will have them hopelessly lost in New York City with the evil wizard Gargamel hot on their little white heels. They’ve already released a teaser. Looks epic.
I mean, how could it get better? Well, for starters, how about Hank Azaria doing the honors (and looking incredibly goofy) as Gargamel? Still not doing it for you? There’s also an all-star cast supplying the voices of the Smurfs (and probably rendering their own unrecognizable), including Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, George Lopez, and Jonathan Winters among others. Still not doing it for you?
Yeah, me neither.
But as The Smurfs join The Chipmunks and Transformers in the ranks of former ink and paint animation stars upgraded to pixels and thrust back into the spotlight, I can’t help but wonder who’s next. What I’d like to share with you now is my personal list of ‘toons from my childhood that I think would make excellent live action fodder in today’s market of recycled ideas.
Okay, maybe not excellent. But at least as good as The Smurfs.
5. Snorks: Even as a kid, I knew that the Snorks were just rainbow colored Smurfs that lived underwater. The success of The Smurfs in the 1980’s led to an onslaught of shows and merchandise boasting loveable tiny creatures that lived together in a tight knit community and did things that were adorable. The Snorks were easily the most successful of these hangers on, so it stands to reason that if the Smurfs revival is successful then these aquatic immitators can’t be far behind. It’d be interesting to see how they’d apply their problem solving wit and positive attitude to clean up the Gulf.
4. M.A.S.K.: Note the acronym. I’m not talking about the 1985 sob-fest starring Eric Stoltz and Cher. I’m talking about the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. A team of ordinary seeming people with a secret. They drove awesome vehicles that could transform into even more awesome BATTLE VEHICLES! And they all wore masks that gave each of them a very cool, voice activated power. Led by the ever confident Matt Tracker, M.A.S.K. did battle every weekday morning with the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem, or V.E.N.O.M., who had… well, pretty much all the same stuff M.A.S.K. had. Only evil. Hot on the heels of the Transformers, this franchise is ripe for a reboot that could launch it straight back into the hallowed halls of modern day mediocrity.
3. BraveStarr: Not everyone remembers this science fiction western, but with the eyes of a hawk, the strength of a bear and various other animal totems on his side along with a robot horse and a cyborg bartender friend named Handlebar, this space cowboy battled the outlaw Tex Hex and his gang of hoodlums on a weekly basis and came out smiling. Who wouldn’t pay to see this epic battle of good versus not-so-good played out on the silver screen? I know I wouldn’t! But I might check out the DVD.
2. Rainbow Brite: Admittedly, I didn’t watch this little cutie all that often. In my defense, I was a boy. Her popularity was unmistakable though, and I’m sure at some point in the fairly near future she’ll be rediscovered and exploited. I imagine the plot will involve her and her horsey, Starlight, and that little fuzzy thing that always followed her around somehow winding up in New York City, befriending a lonely orphan girl, and bringing color to the dismal burg. I’d personally like to see how her sunny attitude and rainbow smiles go over in Jersey.
1. ThunderCats: Speculation has been running wild on this one for the last couple of years. From what I gather it was going to be a feature film, but it got shelved pending the success or lack thereof of an upcoming Cartoon Network reboot. While the project waits in limbo though, the humanoid cat people from the planet Thundera are prime candidates for the number one slot. I, for one, actually look forward to seeing the Sword of Omens sharpened and the tarp pulled from the Thunder Tank as Lion-O, Cheetara, and the rest of the furry Thunderians leap into live-action. Especially Cheetara. Just leave Snarf at Cat’s Lair, ok guys?
So, there you have it. If you’re wondering why Masters of the Universe didn’t make the cut , it’s because He-Man and friends already had a stinker of a feature film in 1987 and they’ve got another one in the pipeline. In fact, this was going to be a top ten list, but it seems most of my other favorites from the decade of decadence have already found their way to the big screen, from G.I. Joe to Fat Albert, for better or for worse.
One thing is certain, though: With this trend already firmly in place, it’s only a matter of time before all of your favorite childhood cartoon characters (and some you only scantly remember) are clamoring for your box office dollars. With a little luck, one or two of them might actually be worth watching… but let’s not get our hopes up.