Did you hear the recent news? They’re going to make an Adventure Time movie, and honestly, that’s pretty darn rad. I love a good cartoon to movie adaption—and not just a live action adaption or remake, we honestly have enough of those already—that takes a cartoon straight from the television to the big screen. It’s amazing to see how the creators take 11 to 22 minutes and up the ante for an hour and a half with a bigger story, smoother animation, and extravagant visuals.
Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of classic cartoons get the big screen treatment including The Simpsons, The Powerpuff Girls, and even as recently as Spongebob Squarepants… twice. It’ll certainly be exciting to see how Adventure Time pulls it off, and it got me thinking about what other new cartoons were most deserving of getting a film adaption.
So with that, I give you my list of Ten New Cartoons that Deserve Movies. And when I say “new,” I mean cartoons that have generally had some major presence in the past ten years or so. Though, if you’re looking for something with a bit more old-school flavor, Nick’s already got that covered for you with his own awesome list.
And with that, let’s get started!
10. Over the Garden Wall
Cartoon Network’s first foray into the world of mini-series was with the hauntingly beautiful Over the Garden Wall, a tale of two brothers, Wirt and Greg, lost in a harsh and mysterious forest. As they press onward, they encounter a number of oddities that bring up imagery of classic tales like Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland. If this one were a movie, imagine this one playing out like a really dark Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
But why is this modern classic so low on the list? Easy—it exists already as a miniseries about an hour and a half in length. You could go ahead and watch this one in a single sitting and you’d be getting the movie experience already. I just wouldn’t mind actually seeing this one fleshed out a little bit more story and adapted to the big screen.
9. The Legend of Korra
The Legend of Korra started off by offering quite the grand promise—It’s Avatar: The Last Airbender but with adults and robots and kissing! What could possibly go wrong? Well, turns out a lot actually.
The quality of the show seemed to fluctuate back and forth during its stilted run, but I’m willing to chalk a lot of that up to having to fill four whole seasons with stories to tell. I think a little bit of restraint could do a lot of good for Korra, and perhaps boiling it down to an essential two hours might just be the way to get the story audiences want to see from a new Avatar without any of the extra fluff.
James Kochalka’s rude ‘n’ crude teenage superhero comic melodrama was recently adapted into a series of shorts by Frederator that was criminally underrated. Essentially imagine Watchmen if all the superheroes were teenagers, but instead of being filled with drama and angst, it’s all the dumb shit that teenagers really do—like constantly thinking with their genitalia and getting high all day.
The setup is already perfect for the typical R-rated comedy, but there was actually a lot of material from the original comics that could additionally be adapted into a full length story. It’d definitely make for one gut-bustingly gross-out look back on the internet generation and the recent explosion of superhero obsession fueled by it.
7. Lakewood Plaza Turbo
Video games are starting to make a huge comeback in movies lately. Wreck-It Ralph and Adam Sandler’s upcoming Pixels have made good on bringing some of those nerd fantasies to life, but why not try and make something that feels like a video game without using Pac-Man or Donkey Kong? Lakewood Plaza Turbo could be just that thing.
Only existing right now as a pilot for an upcoming Cartoon Network series, the premise of a mall where video game characters work and socialize could make for an awesome animated “hang-out” movie in the vein of Kevin Smith films, but with the added angle of actually feeling like a video game and not like an advertisement.
6. Bee and Puppycat
Bee and Puppycat is the magical girl fantasy for a new generation, except with all the action-packed superhero parts downplayed to a minimum. What you’re left with is a post-post-modern slice of life with a fantasy twist that would probably feel at home with the French New Wave. What would a movie adaption of a superhero temp and her weird cat/dog/thing look like? Well, if it’s anything like the animated series thus far, it’d be a lot of gorgeous imagery and then loafing around on the coach eating snacks and watching reality television.
So basically a good version of Garfield: The Movie without the hideous GCI cat. Puppycat could still be voiced by Bill Murray, though.
5. Regular Show
Fan favorite Regular Show owes a lot its charm and success to its appreciation and constant homages to pop-culture and films of the 80’s and 90’s. It’s not too unusual for an episode to just flat out be an 11-minute version of some of the kitschiest of these nostalgic films like Over the Top and Big Trouble in Little China, so why not go all out and make the ultimate feature length homage to everything generation-X with a Regular Show movie? Mordecai and Rigby are already the classic slackers incarnate, so imagining this one up on the silver screen isn’t too hard to do already, regardless of if they go the pure parody route or with something more original.
4. Homestar Runner
Starting off as highly shared internet vignettes, characters Homestar, Strong Bad and others became immortalized amongst millennials in the past decade. Even today, the two brothers who created Homestar Runner are doing very well as hotshot television writers. So now, with Homestar Runner slowly making a comeback on YouTube, the time is ripe for movie studios to get the Brothers Chaps in for some studio meetings.
What kind of movie could you even get out of Homestar Runner as source material? Why, the only option that short-form gag-heavy comedies have to rely on when adapted for film—the road trip movie. Sure, generic as hell, but you just know that in the hands of the Chapmans, it would be the funniest damn road trip movie you’d ever seen. Even if it’s just about Strong Bad driving a bus from end of Town to the other.
3. The Venture Bros.
With every passing season of the quintessential Adult Swim show, fans have had to wait longer and longer for increasingly grandiose episodes of this twisted Johnny Quest parody. The show’s epic and convoluted structure already lends itself to a 3-hour seat warmer and would actually serve as the perfect way to conclude the show, once that ending is reached.
It’s clear that Venture Bros. has been getting more cinematic over the years all while pushing the envelope for animated (yet tasteful!) sex and violence. By trading the TV-MA rating for an R, the show could finally tell the ultimate blood-drenched tale of the manic depressive Venture family the way it was always meant to be told.
2. Gravity Falls
The recent Disney Channel sleeper hit about a brother and sister discovering the mysteries of their uncle’s hometown has gained the reputation of being the Twin Peaks for a new generation, and that title is well earned. A full length mystery adventure would definitely deliver on the same offbeat adventures as the show and would be a great opportunity to up the stakes for a sleepy Oregon town on the edge of the supernatural with Disney level production.
So much so that even the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch, has even gone on record saying that he could imagine the show running for three seasons and ending with a movie. And if we learned anything from Community, the second you give your fans this kind of promise to latch on to, they’ll never let go of it.
Speaking of Dan Harmon…
1. Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty is one of the most unexpected surprises to come out of recent cartoons with its simple premise– the adventures of a drunk Doc Brown and his oblivious grandson. What starts as a great setup for some crass humor eventually yields way to some truly great sci-fi tales and nihilistic musings on the chaos and uncertainty of the universe at large. It comes as no surprise that this is partly due to the legendary Dan Harmon acting as co-creator and writer to the show.
Much like the other mature entries on this list, a Rick and Morty feature would allow the darkly hilarious duo to pull absolutely no punches, but would also give us a true full fledged Back to the Future adventure. Rick and Morty is just as refreshingly hilarious as it is ingenious, and for that reason, it gets my vote for the new cartoon that needs a movie more than any other. It would be sure to make you laugh, make you cry, and even make you vomit in your mouth. Just a little.
And honestly, isn’t that what good animated movies are all about in the end?