Kids‘ classics cartoons that became films – the best and worst

Throw Top Cat: The Movie out with the kitty litter.

Blue Sky Studios Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts MovieImage Picture 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios

Never underestimate the nostalgic pull of classics from your childhood.

Just when you think you’ve seen the last of an old pal, they’re being dusted off and rebooted with cutting-edge CGI and a big name cast taking home cool paychecks for a couple of day’s voiceover work. It’s a dangerous game, but the big-screen cartoons aren’t always a complete cop out. Here are a handful of the very best and very worst kids classics-to-film adaptations on offer.

1

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

Charles M Schulz’s dog and boy duo stretch all the way back to comic strips from the 50s. Animated TV specials swiftly followed, with 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas nabbing an Emmy. Widely regarded as a classic in the States, its 50th anniversary is marked with the first 3D cartoon from Ice Age creators Blue Sky Studios. Sceptics worried Peanuts wouldn’t be the same after Schultz’s death in 2000, but US fans have been won over by its charm. It’s heading to the UK on December 21.

2

Postman Pat: The Movie

Postman Pat: The Movie was a big screen flop in 2014
Return to sender Postman Pat: The Movie ended up being a big screen flop in 2014. Image Picture Icon Film Distribution

Greendale’s northern postman was the subject of a dreadful animated adaptation last year. The plot, about Pat seeking fame on a reality TV show, was ridiculous. The animation was cheap and tacky. The usually reliable Stephen Mangan did his best as the voice of Pat, but why Ronan Keating was picked to provide Pat’s singing voice we’ll never know.

3

Top Cat

Conniving alley cat TC made Officer Dibble’s life hell in Hanna-Barbera’s 60s cartoon, but his staggeringly inept 21st century reboot ended up tarnishing the memory of a classic. Shoddy 3D and a terrible English dub – the film was originally a Spanish-language production – made this one to miss. Spain ending up with the rights sounds like the kind of shady deal Benny The Ball would preside over. Our advice? Chuck it out with the kitty litter.

4

Paddington

Michael Bond’s Peruvian bear has hung around in books, cartoon and TV ads for decades, so the leap to movies was inevitable. All of Paddington’s quirks – the marmalade, the blue duffel coat – were kept in place as Bunny In The Bull director Paul King came up with an eccentric, charming family film. Paddington even managed to barge past ‘worthy’ films to bag itself a couple of BAFTA nominations. Marmalade sandwiches all round!

5

Fantastic Mr Fox

Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums director Wes Anderson brought Roald Dahl’s classic story to life with stop-motion animation and an all-star cast. George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray lent the whole thing a touch of class, while the film notched up Oscar nominations for writing and music. Steven Spielberg is about to take on Dahl’s BFG – he’ll need to be on top form to match Fantastic Mr Fox.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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