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QUICK QUESTION: What Are the Best TV-to-Movie Adaptations?

Between reviewing the Napoleon Dynamite animated series and Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, I've been thinking a lot about the relationship between movies and television and that weird moment of conversion when one becomes the other. Especially these days, when it seems like all studio films are based on previously known properties, it feels like more and more of a guarantee that hit TV shows will eventually find themselves on the silver screen. Whether it's a movie based on a currently airing show (South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, X-Files: Fight the Future, The Powerpuff Girls), a continuation of a finished series starring the same cast (Serenity, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), or a complete reboot (Charlie's Angels, The A-Team, Mission: Impossible), it's certainly easy to recognize that TV shows can make GREAT (or at least really fun) movies.

In no particular order, here are my favorite movies originally based on TV shows. What are yours?



The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%

Why I Love It: You'll notice comedies will be pretty overrepresented on this list, particularly ones that came out when I was an impressionable youth. But maybe that's because comedies translate to the big screen pretty easily? Or maybe movies made in the '90s were SO GOOD? I don't know. But this Betty Thomas-directed satire of The Brady Bunch mythos had at least one thoroughly brilliant idea: Maintain the Brady's '70s kitsch, but have them exist in present day. It's such a weird movie! And very meta. A Very Brady Sequel is also pretty solid, especially the part where Alice does acid and nonchalantly steps inside the refrigerator. They don't make studio comedies like this anymore.



The Star Trek movies


Rotten Tomatoes score: Various

Why I Love Them: Here's an example of a TV show I DO NOT LIKE but I really love the movies. Man, you cannot force me to watch the original Star Trek TV series. Just no thank you. But I will watch any of the movies, especially the even-numbered ones. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the one I've seen the most, but I could watch Star Trek: First Contact any day of the week also. Heck, I'd even watch the Tom Hardy one where Data dies and his twin brother takes over. Dumb right? No, not dumb, how dare you. These movies are the best.



South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%

Why I Love It: This one seems so obvious it's almost unfair. But do you remember how important this movie was when it first came out? Critics loved it, it made a lot of money, and Robin Williams even yelled one of its songs at the Oscars. My favorite part is when Terrance and Philip are on Conan and one of them slaps Brooke Shields across the face. I laugh at that so hard every time! All right, this movie has sort of lost its edge a tiny bit now that Saddam Hussein's dead and also South Park the series is regularly more shocking than this, but still: This movie was and is excellent.



Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

Why I Love It: You can have your fancy Christopher Nolan-directed, gritty, realistic takes on Batman, but I will always prefer Batman: The Animated Series as the definitive Batman portrayal. (I also love Batman Returns but more because it's the perfect Tim Burton movie.) Anyway, Mask of the Phantasm didn't exactly light up the box office, but it's just about as solid as a Batman story gets. It has a surprisingly sophisticated screenplay, a cool villain and an awesome twist. If you haven't seen this yet, I honestly feel so bad for you.



Addams Family Values (1993)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%

Why I Love It: This one's been on HBO a lot lately and I watch it pretty much every time it's on. While the original Barry Sonnenfeld-directed The Addams Family was a just-fine reworking of the old Charles Addams cartoons (made famous by the 1960s TV series), it was this sequel that really did it right. From Joan Cusack's hilarious villainess Debbie to the kids' aggressively blonde Camp Chippewa, Addams Family Values' screenplay is one of the cattiest, most engaging comedic works of the '90s.



Movies based on SNL characters


Rotten Tomatoes score: Various

Why I Love Them: I have super low standards when it comes to films based on SNL characters. Obviously Blues Brothers and the Wayne's World films are indisputably good. But I also love Superstar and The Coneheads and even It's Pat: The Movie. That's right, I LOVE It's Pat: The Movie and I'm not even ashamed to admit this in public. MacGruber was a pretty solid one too, but that's beside the point because I will watch any of these movies at any time for any reason. Because they're all based on character sketches in which we don't really learn any backstory, I guess I just really like getting to see where the characters come from and what they get up to outside the confines of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Or maybe SNL has just permanently lodged itself in the nostalgia part of my brain and anything it does will always be entertaining to me. I don't know. Sometimes it's nice feeling easy to please.



Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%

Why I Love It: Speaking of easy to please, there was really no way I wasn't going to love a Kids in the Hall movie. But then this thing came out and it was weird, disturbing, and slightly depressing. They forgot to write jokes, for one thing! For another, apparently during the entire production of this film each troupe member despised the rest and Dave Foley was even forced to be in it against his will. In re-watching it, the bad vibes permeating every scene are fairly obvious. Doesn't matter. It's still one of the most curious and entertaining things I've ever seen, like one of the latter day Monty Python movies. And really, just put Bruce McCulloch in a ladies' wig and I'm there.



Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%

Why I Love It: After Twin Peaks made David Lynch a household name and then quickly faded away, he made this cinematic exercise in audience alienation and his career pretty much disappeared until Mulholland Dr. This was totally unjust! Look, Twin Peaks was a miracle of a TV show: An unapologetically baffling and artistic serial that just so happened to catch on with a mass audience. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is actually just a really faithful distillation of all of the show's themes and ideas, which mean it's... yes, an art film. Except it's hilarious. Like, really funny! Sure it's weird and nightmare-inducing, but what isn't these days?



Masters of the Universe (1987)


Rotten Tomatoes score: 13%

Why I Love It: Okay, sure, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was originally a toy line, but it was the animated TV series that really brought pop culture significance. What a lot of people may not know is this 1987 Menahem Golan-produced, Dolph Lundgren-starring adaptation won ALL of the Oscars and Golden Globes that year. No, it didn't. But I do know that it is a truly terrible film that I have seen a truly terrible number of times. "I was in this movie!" —Courteney Cox


What are YOUR favorite movie adaptations of TV shows?

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There's so many out there that I liked. Scooby-Doo being the first one that popped into my brain.
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I completely agree with The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel. It was a perfect homage to the original while making it more accessible to modern audiences.

You should also do a reverse list... What are the Best Movies turned TV? Cause I know Buffy would top that list :D
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My favorite movies based on TV series are: The Fugitive (liked it much better than any episode of the show); most of the Star Trek movies (Final Frontier and The Motion Picture being the exceptions); Maverick (for all the old cowboy stars at the card game); Hammer's Quatermass movies; Serenity (another instance where I liked the movie better); Mission: Impossible and M:I 3; and The X-Files: Fight the Future.
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The Beverly Hillbillies! A very good, and very well-done movie. So sad that Jim Varney died before sequels could be made. I can't imagine anyone else playing that part.
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Addams Family Values!

Both The Brady Bunch Movies

And both Scooby Doo Movies!
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Least Favorite would be the Last Airbender movie, and any movie on Disney Channel.
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It's a shame that movie was so bad. The Avatar cartoon series is seriously some of the best storytelling ever! I've rewatched the entire series so many times and it never fails to make me laugh, cry, get goose bumps. I love that show!
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Favourite would be Star Trek



Others would include

The Muppets (not seen latest film yet though)

Babylon 5 if TV movies are included.

Jackass

Police Squad / The naked gun. Although Im not sure if I would still find the naked gun films funny nowadays.



British ones:

On the Buses (if you want to go back a bit)

Mr Bean (Cant remember if I liked the films or not)

The Inbetweeners

Bottom / Guest House Paradiso



Definitely more bad movies were from TV series than good ones.
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Probably the Utena movie that somehow managed to be even more twisted and gothic and non-sensical than the series and then in third act they (SPOILER) turn into cars for no reason.
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Batman (1989) with Michael Keaton was great
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I think TV-to-movies are usually very disappointing, especially when cult tv shows are only used as a title for something entirely different. The worst examples for me are the Mission ; Impossible movies, The Avengers or The Saint.



As a trekkie, the Star Trek movies have never felt as good as the shows, except maybe for the last one (the JJ Abrams movie).



But I think the best adaptation to the big screen is The Fugitive.
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Best TV-to-Movie is the Addams Family, but I really think that's because it's based more on the old comic strips than the TV show.



Although I do enjoy Addams Family Values, especially for being the first time Peter MacNichol and David Krumholtz worked together.
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In terms of movies made from old TV show. My favorite one so far is

The A team.

- Was right on the money with the adaption.

If a show was done on this topic I think The A team would be number

1.



Haven't seen them but the worse ones I think are:

Starsky&Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard and it hasn't come

out yet but 21 jump street looks like another one.
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not gonna lie, i actually love the brady bunch movie. like the scene where they;re all dancing on the escalator and everyone else is looking at them like they;re high, and marsha is going to a dance with a guy and mrs brady says it looks like rain and asks her date if he has any "protection" and he tells her in assorted textures and colors! and yes i realize i;ve seen that movie too many times but i recommend it to anyone, its hysterical. oh yeah and rupaul playing the woman guidance counselor? girl, you betta WORK!
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Serenity, XF: Fight The Future (you can forget the second movie), The Abrams ST movie, The Blues Brothers (although I never saw the TV version, being from the UK).



Not sure if the two SG1 movies count as they weren't cinema released, but made for TV. But if they do, they're on the list!
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TO be fair, Stargate was based on a movie, before it was a tv show!
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from the list I definitely enjoyed Masters Of The Universe, Movies based on SNL Characters, Addams Family Values, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, and even the Brady Bunch Movie, oh and the Star Trek Movies were good, but the series are classic.



I would like to add Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum, also one could argue Transformers oh and many probably don't know Dungeons and Dragons, though the series was a cartoon and the movies were live action with CGI etc... also Serenity. Oh and its a cartoon but Xena and Hercules: Fight for Mount Olympus was great. I'm sure there are more I'm missing.
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#1 Serenity, best t.v. show ever (Firefly) didn't disappoint when movie addaptation was deliverd which is rare. Also Batman animated movies and the recent incarnation of live action, first two X-men movies, Monty Python Search for the Holy Grale, And of corse Wayne's World totaly.
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You talk about SNL movies and don't mention "A Night At The Roxbury"? Blasphemy. Also the best movie based on a TV show would be "The Fugitive" hands down!
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Monty Python movies are the Holy Grail of t.v. to movies.

I also love Night at the Roxbury

The animated Transformers movie tied together multiple seasons of the show so I don't think it counts
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random order:

serenity

transformers

the mask of zorro

aeon flux

george of the jungle

lost in space

mission: impossible

monty python movies

gi joe movie and cartoon movie

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Firefly--> Serenity definitely.



South Park was a good one. Beavis and Butt-Head.



Im waiting for the Entourage movie



Of course I want a Chuck Movie. I also always wanted to see a Heroes movie or mini-series. If a series is canceled it's really easy to want to see a film continuation to end things.



For comedy i think Warner Bros would make mad money off making a Friends film. Never understood why they never tried.
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The Fugitive, hands down. Great TV show. Great movie. I can't think of a comedy movie based on a TV show that I like. Get Smart should have been great, but it wasn't.
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Totally agree on anything Price wrote about "Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me".

For me, "Serenity" and "Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me" are the best adaptions mostly to the fact that both are no adaptions at all - the first a thrilling, brilliant sequel, the latter a perfectly executed, mind-boggling(and insanely funny) prequel. True fans deserve none the less.
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Dolph and Alex Skarsgrd, that's how we all look like in Sweden:P
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Blues Brothers!! The music, dance, lines, crazy Carrie Fischer and the best car chase ever!

Stand by your maaaan!



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Too easy Star Trek films are the best
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I love South Park Bigger Longer & Uncut. The Simpsons Movie was pretty good too! :)
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You're right on the Trek films. They're really great while the show is, well, old, but it's still sacred ground. As for Masters of the Universe... that must have been the worst TV adaption ever. They took the few bad things from the show and left out all the good parts (and the fun) that I liked as a kid and that can sometimes still make me grin when I see it... where's "By the power of greyskull...?" They really should turn that into a movie but keep the cool stuff this time... especially the music along with the Adam/He-Man part. But thanks for reminding me of a movie I was so trying to forget it existed.
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Staff
Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe
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I don't know if it counts, not a theatrical film.
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i am ridiculously excited that you listed Masters of the Universe - i watched this movie SO MANY TIMES growing up and was kind of in love with lundgren and also the music that is played by the keytone. it was the best.
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Community and Fringe! six seasons and a movie!
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i dont get it, u said the best tv to movie, but then you include he man with a super low rottentomatoes score, and u even say its horrible. so why is it on this list?
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its a list of his favourites and obviously a guilty pleasure....
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because it is obviously the best of the best
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Apart from Serenity I was sad to see Beavis and Butthead Do America not get a mention here. Okay perhaps it isn't a movie of epic proportions but then again neither was the series. However I still find it good simple amusement and a really enjoyable movie.
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Oh, the Blues Brothers. One of my favorite favorites from so long ago. However, some of my favorites left out, were



The A-Team - not better than the show, but decent, and far better than SNL's It's Pat or SUperstar.



Serenity - I don't know why anyone wouldn't like this, such a brilliant movie based on my still favorite show that was cancelled way too soon.



The Fugitive - yes! (Thanks Brain05) because that was a great flick.



Mission Impossible, The Saint all get mentions, but then, there are some that are terrible that you also forgot.



What about the the bad... Care Bears? Smurfs? Alvin and the Chipmunks? Charlies Angels?



The decent...Dukes of Hazzard? Get Smart? The Mod Squad? Mr. Bean? Sex and the City? Scooby Doo?



The great... Any Monty Python movie? Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie? Twilight ZOne?
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What kind of weirdo loves the Star Trek movies but hates TOS? Like...what? The original series is a thousand times better than any of the films are.
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Thank you - TOS is a timeless classic .
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Gotta agree with serenity but that may just be because Firefly was cancled too soon ;(
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Didn't watch the Star Trek TV show but recently saw most of the films on HBO or Cinemax (they were running a marathon and I got stuck). My favorite is definitely Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ricardo Maltabon was absolutely awesome as a villain and who can forget Captain Kirk's famous "KKKKHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNN!"

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For good ones not on the list, I'll throw in mentions for Mission Impossible, X-Files, Serenity, The Fugitive, Maverick, The Saint, and The Untouchables.
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Superstar! The movie that brought us the "fax machine". I totally forgot about it till now! I have a vague recollection of Molly Shannon making out with a tree lol...pure gold. Every time I see her in something, I squeal: Hey its Mary Katherine Gallagher!
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I can't think of any right now not on this list, but South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut was one of my favorite movies after it first came out.



I loved the movie so much that, despite being Canadian, I started blaming Canada for everything!
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Blues Brother is the best SNL movie ever. James Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, etc etc etc and the queen Aretha Franklin. The scene with Matt Guitar Murphy leaving Aretha to return to the Blues Brothers in the diner, with Blue Lou Marini on sax, culminating in Aretha busting out with "Think" is just one of the greatest scenes ever.



Thanks for the "South Park" picture of Winona Rider. Laughing remembering where she was producing the ping-pong balls from.
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I want four fried chickens and a coke.
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South PArk. Still one of my favorite movies of all time!
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Although the 1986 Transformers movie was the first time I cried at a movie - I was 6 or 7, but seeing Optimus die was too much *sniff*
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South Park movie by a landslide.
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Definitely fully agree on the South Park movie. Easily one of the funniest movies I've ever watched, I pissed myself laughing the first (few!) times I watched it.



Serenity was also awesome, although I felt it went a bit "big budget" over the smalltime that the show was, going for more explosions and fighting over the character content that made the show so awesome. However, it was still a great movie, albeit a bit depressing at the end.
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The He-Man movie is one of my first movie experiences (I've an older brother who loooved it), and I loved the Addams Family movie as well, that insane camp still makes me laugh.



I do notice you sort of like F-listed movies :D
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The whale star trek is hilarious. I haven;t seen any of the rest besides the new one, or the show, but of the ones I've seen (all TWO of them) I thought were awesome. And the Wayne's World is hilarious! I haven;t seen the rest though.
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Serenity was by far my favorite TV-to-movie adaptation. I'm embarrassed to admit I actually get a lump in my throat every time I watch it. It reminds me that the Firefly series isn't coming back. FOX's idiocy caused the premature demise of what could have been something truly brilliant.
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But with that, if Firefly had the run it deserved, would we still have had Chuck and Castle?
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Castle, no. Chuck, yes.
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Are you kidding?? I would prefer a Firefly return over Chuck & Castle any day!
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Me too!!!!
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Southpark the film was awesome! I would add to that, The Simpsons movie, I believe they were finishing season 18 when they started making the movie, which btw was awesome x 2
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I want to start of by mentioning that I hate Serenity with a deep passion, I feel it ruined a "quite good" TV series, and turned it into The Space-Matrix.



Now that that's done, I think my favorite one is The Simpsons Movie because I was really pleasantly surprised at how good it was, it actually made me laugh a lot.
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Stranger with Candy!!!!!!!!!
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