I thought I was completely over the “Hollywood is ruining my childhood!” phase of my film-loving life. I’d accepted the machine of the studio system and learned to look for the best in all upcoming projects based on things I loved as a kid. I had learned to let go of nostalgia and look objectively at the people involved in these projects, gauging their talents and what they could bring to the property.
THR opened the first of the seven seals today by announcing that Robert Rodriguez will be directing a live-action adaptation of Jonny Quest, the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon form the 1960s.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Jonny Quest is one of my all-time favorite cartoons, thanks largely in part to my mother who loved the show when she was a kid. TNT ran a marathon of every Jonny Quest episode and my mom recorded them all. Jonny Quest was the first show I ever saw in its entirety. There is deep nostalgia for me when it comes to this property.
I have some objective defense thanks to Jonny Quest being a really great show. It’s pulpy in the best of ways, and its premise (a family of globetrotting adventurers) allowed for a plethora of different kinds of stories. My favorites were the ones that delved into horror territory, such as “Monster in the Monastery” and “The Invisible Monster.” The show also didn’t pussyfoot around when it came to putting the kid characters into real danger. Would you ever see a cartoon today where kids are shot at with real guns?
So, the news that Robert Rodriguez is going to make Jonny Quest into a movie has me uncharacteristically concerned. First of all, Rodriguez is barely a shadow of his former self. His two most recent movies, Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, are terrible films. I’m sure someone will bring up his Spy Kids movies since they would have the most bearing on how he’d approach something like Jonny Quest, but I can’t imagine that those alone would be a strong enough case for putting him in the director’s chair. Also, Rodriguez’s dependence on green screen filmmaking means that Jonny Quest will probably end up looking cartoonier and shoddier than its source material.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a Jonny Quest movie in concept (in a better universe, Joe Dante would have gotten a swing at it), but I am fervently opposed to Rodriguez being the one at the helm. This is a Warner Bros joint, so I’m hoping that Rodriguez’s “I like making movies in my garage!” attitude clashes with the big studio system hard enough to get him booted off of the project. I’m sure that this is also a political job for Rodriguez in order to salvage his reputation and finances after the abortion that was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
God, if we’ve lost Cary Fukunaga’s It and gained this instead… Chewers, cheer me up in the comments.
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