Honorable Mentions: I've gone for straight ports to be honest as there is many adaptations that have just been reimagined or modernised, apart from one notable exception and I've also thrown in a few new ones since talked about things like Transformers: The Movie recently.
Still I whole heartedly recommend; Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theatres, Dirty Sanchez: The Movie, Jackass: The Movie, the Monty Python trilogy, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, The Inbetweeners Movie, most of The Muppet movies, Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie, The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!, the recent Star Trek reboots and big screen versions of Blues Brothers & Wayne's World.
Sadly there isn't a sixth spot for the list so I can talk more about GoBots: Battle For The Rock Lords.
5. Ali G Indahouse
Ah, Sasha Baron Cohen. Sure, he's got a free pass to make whatever extreme comedy he wants nowadays with Borat, Bruno and The Dictator, but there was a time when he was just a interviewer on Britain's Channel 4 as a parody of U.S. west coast ghetto gangsters in his Ali G persona. This character going up against straight people who didn't get what was going on at times lead to his own spin off TV show. His popularity grew so big, a film spin off was all but inevitable...
Ali G Indahouse falls into the category of so bad it's good and it became a cult film between me and my university buddies. Departing for his TV interviewing, we get a fictionalised story of how Ali wants to save his local sports centre from being closed down but ends up becoming youth advisor to the British Prime Minister. Absolutely ludicrous and terrible plot but it's entertaining. Your mileage may vary with the humour on offer but if anything see this for Martin Freeman - Yes, the same one that's Sherlock's Watson and the younger Bilbo Baggins - as Ali's right hand man and giver in an impromptu gay sex act ("Uhh, it's quite nice actually"). A brilliant guilty pleasure of mine.
4. Futurama - Bender's Big Score
Released in time for 2007 Christmas, the direct-to-DVD film length return of Mattt Groening's Futurama was pretty much universally embraced by everyone. After being cancelled by Fox in '03, after a period of being tossed around timeslots and being what felt like the red-headed stepchild of the family, despite being an award-winning show, the show's return in typical style was a brilliant move.
Bender's Big Score pretty much makes up for four Futurama-less years by featuring a complex but engrossing plot about time travel thievery by nudist aliens, a Terminator-style, corrupted Bender and the secret of time travel being on Fry's buttcheek. Crammed with tonnes of cameos from the show, we had three more of these which were successful too before Comedy Central pulled the lever fully and we got two more full seasons. If anything, Bender's Big Score tested the waters to see if there was still an interest for the show to which a resounding YES was heard. On it's own, this movie does stand on it's own two feet and is worth seeking out if you want to get into the show.
3. The Tom Cruise Mission Impossible Series
My non-remake/reimagining card and what a card it is. The rebooted Mission Impossible franchise has been chugging along very nicely since it's Tom Cruise-led introduction since 1996, with all four entries being anything but less than good and watchable. American spy Ethan Hunt as part of the Impossible Missions Force is put through the ringer multiple times all over the world to protect the good old USA and the world.
The series' action trademarks stand out since they're plain freaking awesome. Think about it, where else would we be able to see something as brilliant as a helicopter chase through the Channel Tunnel, a man sticky palming his way up the side of one of the tallest buildings in the world and a motorbike chase all around Sydney, Australia? Magnificent. You may have a different level of tolerance to the whole face mask gimmick as it's becoming a bit tiresome at the third, but they avoided it pretty much for the fourth thank god, yet it's still cool to see it in the right circumstances. At the end of the day, you can't ask for a better four action-cum-spy movies for pure entertainment bliss.
2. Batman (1966)
I have fond memories of the Adam West 60's Batman TV show when I was growing up and this big screen edition of the show encapsulated everything about it. I mean, it's the only time you saw Lee Meriwether's Catwoman team up with Cesar Romero's Joker, Frank Gorshin's Riddler and Burgess Meredith's Penguin to take on Bats and Burt Ward as the Boy Wonder Robin in an absolutely fiendish plot to kidnap the World Leaders.
Let's see what Bat-shit insane moments this film has - the challenges of Batman getting rid of the bomb, kicking goons into oblivion thanks to Heavy Water matter, turning people into dust to kidnap them, a Penguin-painted submarine... Oh, and of course Anti-Shark Repellant Bat Spray! A glorious, wonderful spectacular summary of the TV show with the straight West and Ward surrounded by the complete lunacy and campness of the villains and their plot. The recent news that the TV show is FINALLY coming to DVD just puts the icing on the cake for me. Wonderful stuff.
1. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
The musical big screen coming out of South Park is still memorable today. I mean, this gave us "Blame Canada" for god's sake! It enabled Matt Stone & Trey Parker to finally get away from censors and not bleep out the swear words, which is what we wanted the kids to see finally see and do.
An off-the-rails plot sees the USA and Canada go to war over Terrance & Philip's movie affecting the young children of America including Stan, Kyle and Cartman, whilst Kenny dies early on and acts as a relationship psychologist between the couple of Satan & Saddam Hussein. Perhaps a tad dated given the references to current events in the world 15 years ago, yet the music led skeleton of Bigger, Longer & Uncut still holds up pretty damn well if you ask me and perhaps the best case of a show using the jump to the big screen to throw off it's shackles and give us it's all away from the confines of TV.
5. Mission: Impossible
With its love of disguises, outlandish schemes, gadgets and espionage plus its classic theme and quotable lines ("your mission, should you choose to accept it..."), Mission: Impossible was already tailor-made for a movie. The 1996 film takes the idea of a simple mission going horribly wrong leaving Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt framed as a mole and on the run. Brian DePalma is well suited for the material, the sequence of Ethan breaking into a high-tech computer vault a true thrill. The big plot twist may be jarring for TV fans but is helped by the explanation of how Cold War operatives deal with a much different world. The finale is a true wild ride in a train tunnel and Cruise drives it all on, using his charisma quite well, leading to a terrific movie that can entertain anyone, TV fan or not.
An obvious choice for a list like this. The 1970 Robert Altman movie was a dark comedy of medics working in the Korean War, more a period piece in some ways. The long-running TV version broadened that, still getting the comedy of the red tape of the Army and thick-headed beaurcrats. But it also captured feelings of the time, even tackling rough issues like when Lips is targeted as a possible Communist sympathizer and the realization of a racist colonel deliberately sending his black soldiers to get wounded. The fantastic cast helped win you over, especially Alan Alda as the seemingly goofball Hawkeye who had darker parts to his heart and Harry Morgan as ramrod commander Potter whose entrance in season four really sparked the show up. Its acclaimed finale really explored the horrors war can take but we also remember the laughs provided as war may be hell but these folks showed you could still find facets of light amid the darkness, a great metaphor for its time and a show that still stands proud today.
3. The Fugitive
The ABC series had always been enthralling with a finale that was one of the highest-rated episode in television history. The 1993 movie version managed to capture that beautifully thanks to Andrew Davis' tight direction. Harrison Ford is well cast as Richard Kimble, convicted of the murder of his wife with no one believing his tale of a one-armed man fleeing the scene. After a thrilling train/bus crash frees him, Kimble is on the run to find that man and clear his name. Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for his performance as Sam Gerard, the U.S. Marshal hunting Kimble down relentlessly. The genius is how Gerard sees this as a job (when Kimble says he's innocent, Gerard just fires back "I don't care.") and continuing the hunt through Chicago. It's a great film with good turns and a strong pace that more than captures the thrill of the show but for a wider audience.
2. Friday Night Lights
The movie by Peter Berg was good in capturing the feeling of a small town in Texas where football is religion. But the 2006-2010 NBC series was far better, standing as one of the best dramas of the last decade and a half. What made it great is that it's pretty much the most realistic look at high school life of any primetime TV show; these aren't kids in adult bodies making witty pop culture references and quoting little-known authors. They screw up, they get in trouble, they think they're smarter than they are, they're hit hard by life, in short, they act like real teenagers do. It's amazing to watch how it unfolds with a first-rate cast, headed by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as one of the best marriages on television. Despite the second season slump with some bad plots, the series as a whole shines with a metaphor of football for life and how you never give up no matter the odds. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose, a mantra that should be a way of life as well as for sports.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Undoubtedly the most famous for a list like this. The 1992 movie had been a box office flop despite Joss Whedon's hardest efforts, more famous for its goofy name. When the WB decided to do a TV series based on it, it seemed idiotic but damn if it didn't work. Using the brilliant idea of monster-hunting as a metaphor for high school life, Whedon captured the audience's attention with great storylines backed by a first-rate cast, especially Sarah Michelle Gellar as the title character. It may have lost a bit of steam after the high school era ended but with its biting humor, sharp writing and unique character turns, it remains a major hit for so many, a genre classic and a showcase for how some movie ideas really do work better for the small screen.
Honorable Mentions: Dragnet (1987), S.W.A.T (2003), 21 Jump Street (2012), The Addams Family (1991), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), The Simpsons Movie (2007)
5. Batman: The Movie (1966)
Batman: The Movie is great because it feels like a longer episode of the TV show that spawned it. The cliffhanger thing is gone, obviously, but just about the entire cast of the TV show is on display (except Julie Newmar, who was replaced by Lee Meriwether for the movie because of a prior commitment), and while the scope of the movie is definitely bigger the movie doesn't feel all that different from the TV show. The only real change is that the movie is a little meaner than the TV show. Think about how several fish die and the Penguin's powdered henchmen who disappear after being touched. Those guys are freaking dead and gone! How often did that happen on the TV show?
4. The A-Team (2010)
I have no idea why this Joe Carnahan directed movie reboot of the classic 1980's TV show didn't kick ass at the box office, as it's one of the better action movies of the last five years. Liam Neeson is great as Hannibal, and Bradley Cooper manages to make the "Face" character his own (he doesn't surpass Dirk Benedict, but then I doubt anyone could). The stand out of the movie, though, is Sharlto Copley as the crazy as all hooha Murdock. He just gives a brilliant, madcap performance. The action scenes are insane (the tank scene is a classic), the tone of the movie is a fine balance between humor and serious action, and it feels like the A-Team of old. It's a damn shame that we're not going to get a sequel. I really wanted to see everyone kick ass again.
3. The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
Fight the Future functions as both a part of The X-Files alien conspiracy mythology and as its own thing. The movie also expands on what we knew at that point about the big alien conspiracy and where the alien black oil came from but at the same time you really don't need to know anything about the show to understand the movie. I'd imagine that plenty of people got freaked out over the whole "bee cultivation" thing and the white domes off in the distance. I know I did. Is that really a golf dome or is Armin Mueller-Stahl over there doing something nefarious? The only real knock on the movie is that it doesn't provide enough in the way of answers for the die hards. Outside of the true scope of the conspiracy we don't learn anything all that new. Still a great movie, though. A modern classic thriller.
2. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Police Squad! managed to last six episodes before ABC got rid of it. You would think that that fact would keep the property from becoming a movie. But then, if you don't know anything about Police Squad! going into The Naked Gun you won't be lost. In fact I didn't know that Police Squad! was an actual thing before I saw The Naked Gun and it didn't stop me from laughing my head off. I still laugh my head off when I watch The Naked Gun. It's a brilliant comedy through and through. It doesn't waste time, it has so many classic bits, and it still works twenty-six years later. How many comedies can boast all of that?
"The attempt on Nordberg's life left me shaken and disturbed, and all the questions kept coming up over and over again, like bubbles in a case of club soda. Who was this character in the hospital? And why was he trying to kill Nordberg? And for whom? Did Ludwig lie to me? I didn't have any proof, but somehow, I didn't entirely trust him either. Why was the 'I Luv You' not listed in Ludwig's records? And if it was, did he know about it? And if he didn't, who did? And where the hell was I? "
1. The Fugitive (1993)
Directed by Andrew Davis, The Fugitive is a top notch thriller that never lets up. Harrison Ford rocks as the framed-doctor-turned-escaped-fugitive, and Tommy Lee Jones steals the show as the U.S marshal charged with tracking Kimble down (he won an Oscar for the performance and after watching the movie it's easy to see why). There are tons of iconic moments (the waterfall scene, the "jumping off the top of the train" scene are two of the bigger ones), and even when the movie starts to peter out towards the end it's still a million times better than most other movies. How many TV shows turned into movies get nominated for Best Picture? U.S Marshals, the sort of sequel to this, is fun, too, but it doesn't have the scope of The Fugitive. Still amazing stuff.