TV cartoons are frequently used as ideas for feature films because the shows have a built-in fan base and because cartoon producers can do things in movies they can't on TV (swear, show nudity, develop lengthier stories). Each time a cartoon becomes a movie, though, fans worry that the true nature of the cartoon and its characters will be lost. Writers and directors have a tricky task creating movies from cartoons. Honestly, most flop. A few fly. Following is a list of the best-reviewed cartoon movies.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut not only grossed more than twice its original budget, but also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Song for "Blame Canada." The South Park movie tells how Cartman, Kenny, Stan and Kyle must prevent a war between Canada and the United States after American parents are outraged over the Terrance & Phillip R-rated movie. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is filled with colorful characters, shocking jokes, clever songs and a well-developed story. Released 1999.
2. The Simpsons
The Simpsons Movie seemed to take decades to make it to the big screen, but only because Simpsons fans are rabid and wanted a movie after only a few seasons. Finally, in 2007, The Simpsons Movie was released to big box office bucks and positive reviews. In the movie, Homer and Bart must save Springfield from a corporate menace, after Homer unleashes an awful amount of wasted into the environment. The family characters are true to their TV selves and secondary characters are used well. I wish, however, that Mr. Burns, their homegrown villain, had been the big bad.
The cast of babies from the Nickelodeon cartoon took a trip to Europe in Rugrats in Paris. Though a previous feature film had been released, Rugrats in Paris earned better reviews. The movie follows Angelica, Chuckie, the other babies and the parents to (you guessed it) Paris. Chuckie's dad, Chazz, starts dating again and it's Chuckie's wish to find a new mom. The movie was able to sustain a long, but simple, storyline with jokes that appealed to both kids and adults. Released 2000.
Pals Beavis and Butt-head were introduced to the world in their titular cartoon on MTV. Beavis and Butt-head Do America finds the boys on a cross-country trek to retrieve their stolen TV, the center of their universe. Along the way they meet crazy smugglers, F.B.I. Agents, roadies and other colorful characters. Mike Judge successfully retained the humor of the TV cartoon while spinning a longer yarn. Released 1996.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie retained the wacky innocence of the Nickelodeon cartoon while telling the story of a road trip. Patrick and SpongeBob must bring back King Neptune's crown to save Mr. Krabs, as well as prove to themselves that they are more grown up than their friends realize. Focusing on SpongeBob and Patrick reaped much comedy, but leaving Squidward, Sandy, Gary and other characters in the background was disappointing. However, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie pulled in over $80 million in box office. Released 2004.
Powerpuff Girls: The Movie was on of Cartoon Network's first feature-length cartoons. Like every superhero, the girls had an origin story that needed telling. Powerpuff Girls: The Movie spins the tale of how Mojo Jojo, their nemesis, unwittingly helped create Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. The movie is just as fun as the cartoon, telling a good story while utilizing Townville's characters (The Mayor, Professor Utonium) without seeming like a variety show. Released 2002.
Critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated director Robert Altman brought comic strip and cartoon character Popeye to the silver screen in the live-action film Popeye. In the hands of this master craftsman, Robin Williams, as Popeye, and Shelley Duvall, as Olive Oyl, were costumed to the hilt and moved as if they were performing for children's theater. However, Altman achieved a very wacky style that critics and audience members either loved or hated, no in-between. Released 1980.
If TV cartoons become feature films they are usually made for family entertainment. Such is the case with George of the Jungle. Starring goofball Brendan Fraser, the movie is the story of how George was raised by apes, but with a bad guy bent on capturing the talking ape. For families, the movie is enjoyable and fun, but for serious critics George of the Jungle was too silly to like. Released 1997.
The cast of Josie and the Pussycats is eclectic, with high-brow actors like Parker Posey and Alan Cumming, and decidedly low-brow actors like Tara Reid. You are asking yourself, no doubt, why Josie and the Pussycats is listed here. Because, hold your gasps, there were enough critics who liked the tongue-in-cheek humor and pop culture references to give the film positive reviews. Not only is the movie about Josie and her band, but also the '80s and it's neon lifestyle. Variety's Joe Leydon said, "This is one sharp pussycat." Me-ow.
Who knew Aqua Teen Hunger Force would have enough content to spawn a movie? Fans, that's who. But fans were the only audience members who enjoyed this brand of humor in such a big dose. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres is the origin story of Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake. Though the film made over $5 million, it's mostly remembered for the troubles its marketing campaign caused in major cities when the Mooninite characters were mistaken for bombs. Released 2007.