Confessions of a Spec Tater — Adult Tested, Kid Approved

Not quite ready to enter the action hero retirement home, Sylvester Stallone will return to world of big guns and bigger muscles next year with The Expendables, the film that finally unites Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger — if only for one short scene.

With a cast that includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Danny Trejo and the recently deceased Brittany Murphy, The Expendables should be a lot of fun and action junkies are already frothing at the mouth in excitement.

As Stallone fans prepare for the release of The Expendables, some might watch the four Rambo films in preparation.

But fans that only re-watch First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III and Rambo won’t be getting the full Rambo experience. They would be forgetting Rambo: The Force of Freedom, the 1986 syndicated cartoon series based on the franchise and now available on DVD.

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During the 65-episode run of Rambo: The Force of Freedom, producers neatly sidestepped the apparent problems that would come with having a children’s cartoon hero who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Turning a popular film franchise into a kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoon is not an uncommon event. Here are a few other adult-oriented films that have lived, if only for a short time, on the small screen.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective; The Mask and Dumb and Dumber.

Original movies: During the early ’90s, Jim Carrey’s most popular roles were Ace Ventura, an eccentric pet detective; The Mask, a green-skinned cartoonish crime fighter; and Lloyd, the brainless co-star of Dumb and Dumber.

Television shows: Hoping to capitalize on Carrey’s fame, three cartoons were produced in 1995, each based on a different film. Carrey, who had gone on to bigger and better things, didn’t provide voices for any of the shows.

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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective exaggerated the film series’ already broad humor and featured work from Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane as a writer. Although the full series is not available on DVD, a few episodes are included in the Ace Ventura double-pack.

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The Mask took a slightly (very slightly) more serious route and focused on more traditional super-hero antics, even introducing several characters from the comic book that provided the basis for the film. A few episodes were released on DVD in an exclusive Wal-Mart two-pack with Son of the Mask a few years ago but the DVD has now become hard to find.

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Dumb and Dumber was produced by cartoon legends Hanna-Barbera and saw Lloyd and Harry adopt what they thought was a cat but was really a purple beaver who acted as the brains of the operation.

All of the shows dropped the source materials’ adult humor and none of them found great success.

The Mask and Ace Ventura did feature a crossover between the two shows, with Ace Ventura even wearing the mask on his butt, causing his anal alter ego to momentarily become endowed with supernatural powers.

Friday: The Animated Series and Clerks: The Animated Series.

Original movies: A cult classic film that launched the acting careers of Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, Friday dealt with two men who spend a day smoking on their porch, all the while interacting with friends, family and angry drug dealers. The original film eventually launched a mildly successful franchise.

Clerks was the black-and-white debut from writer/director Kevin Smith. The film dealt with a day in the life of two misanthropic convenience store clerks.

Television shows: Not all film-to-cartoon adaptations wind up nestled in the Saturday morning line-up. Clerks and Friday were two very-adult films that saw the release of their own short-lived animated series adaptations.

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Premiering a few years ago on MTV2, Friday: The Animated Series reunited all the characters (but not the actors) from the Friday franchise in outlandish plots that reinforced negative stereotypes in a way that could only be done in cartoon form. Episodes dealt with, among other things, the Virgin Mary-esque appearance of Biggie Smalls’ face on a tree and a visit to the ghetto from Condoleezza Rice.

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Clerks: The Animated Series not only featured the same characters as the original film, it featured the same actors providing the voices. Only two episodes of the show actually found their way onto television, but the DVD release of the show became a minor hit. Smith has expressed interest in creating more episodes of the cartoon straight-to-DVD.

Other cartoon shows that had their origins in adult-targeted movies include Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, The Toxic Crusaders, Highlander: The Animated Series, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, RoboCop, Police Academy: The Series, Alienators: Evolution Continues and Problem Child.

What R-rated movie would you like to see made into a children’s cartoon?

Robert Saucedo is still holding out for Requiem for a Dream: The Animated Series. Visit him on the web at www.robsaucedo.com.

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