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Is Hollywood ruining our childhood memories?

Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:33 PM Central

by Tim Briscoe

Curtis Silver has posted an interesting column on Wired's GeekDad blog (an all-round good read, by the way). His Open Letter to Hollywood: Stop Ruining Our Childhood Memories! sounds off on the recent trend of turning '70s and '80s kiddie properties into subpar big screen movies.

The author backs up his claim with an abundance of evidence. Here are the films he presents along with a sampling of commentary. You can read his full piece on the Wired site.

Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

In my opinion, this movie helped to ruin the careers of all those involved, and send Freddie Prinze Jr. straight to DVD purgatory. It wasn’t all bad, the self deprecating jokes were appreciated, but should a film based on a classic cartoon really have to make fun of itself to be appealing?

Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Hollywood knew they had to get these ones right otherwise risk the wrath of fanboys everywhere. While the transforming was awesome, the obnoxious over the top and destructive action sequences were a little much. Try counting how many innocent people were killed in the battle scenes on the city streets.

Super Mario Bros.

So much has been said about this waste of film over the years, that I really can’t say much more. It was the first movie made that was based on a video game and should have been the last. Most importantly, it was based on Mario Bros., which was THE video game of my youth and completely brought me into the fold of the gaming world.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II, III

The silliness of the cartoon was there, but the effects weren't ready for that kind of film which caused it to become something of a farce. The second and third films were strictly overkill. Or should I say roadkill? While the second film was successful, the third bombed and seemed to have been written by scared and tired fourth graders.

Masters of the Universe

A whopping 17 million was the eventual take home [at the box office], which paid the bill of 17 million to create the film. Really, filming in damp alleyways and creating a magical keyboard cost 17 million? Or was that just the cost of baby oil for Dolph Lundgrens' chest?

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

The mix of slow-mo and outrageous action with unpredictable and incoherent flashbacks left me checking the time status to see how much was left in the film. This wasn't G.I. Joe, this was "Tough Action Guys in Power Suits Against Bad Guys with Nanotechnology." The look they gave Cobra Commander and the Baroness' struggle with her inner demons was the icing on the crap cake.

I'm not here to disagree with what Silver has to say. He's dead-on in most cases. However, I'd like to level it a bit.

There's a funny thing about nostalgia. Just as hindsight is always 20/20, our memories are more fond than we recall. The books, toys, and TV shows we loved as kids aren't always deserving of the pedestals on which we put them now. This needs to be kept in mind when measuring reincarnations of a property. I liked the first G.I. Joe cartoon series as a kid but it's laughable when re-watching it now.

And why must Hollywood remake these things in the first place? 'Cause they are easy pickings, that's why. Take a proven franchise, put even the most mediocre filmmaker behind it and you're almost assured of a profit. People tend to forget that Hollywood is a business. Making money with a known commodity is better than gambling with something new and therefore unknown.

The final point I'd like make is that a film version of a beloved work doesn't always turn out bad. The pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books were well-weathered in my middle school library. Every fantasy fan that read them revered the thing like it was the Mona Lisa. Then as adults I'm sure those same fans shuddered at the notion of film versions. But turns out Peter Jackson knows how to make a damn movie. Likewise, Sam Raimi did an admirable job with my favorite webslinger -- well, at least the first two.

The plea made by Silver in his piece is against further adaptations. He fears big-screen versions of Thundercats or Voltron. I say we need to be optimistic and hope for the best. If nothing else, a film is a great way to introduce new people to a given subject. Think of all the newcomers that have gone back and discovered the classics we all enjoy thanks to a remake? There's no shame in that.

That being said, if Hollywood wants to make a live-action -- or even animated -- version of the "Calvin & Hobbes" comic strip, I will go on a murderous rampage. I promise you that.

What do you think? Should studio execs be charged with crimes for making movie versions of our childhood favorites? Which would you like to place on a "Do Not Remake" list? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Send 'em in!