Remember those words? They are from a cartoon show so badass, it made me weep with joy whenever I heard them.
There are whispers in the interwebs, of talks to make a Jonny Quest movie. That's right-- the team comprising of Dr. Benton Quest, Jonny Quest, Hadji, Race Bannon, Jessie Bannon and Bandit are set to grace the silver screen in 2012 (tentatively)! The IMDB page was most unhelpful—they wont even tell us if it is going to be Real Adventures or the 1960s Jonny Quest that’s being adapted (I’m going to go ahead and assume it is Real Adventures¸ because I liked it better), but it appears they've finally cottoned on to the idea of making one of the greatest cartoon shows of all times into a movie.
That was the good news. The bad news? Zac Efron is in talks to play Jonny Quest. The debatable news? Race Bannon may be played by Dwayne Johnson.
Yeah. My heart stopped too. Way to alienate your fan base, Warner Brothers.
Sometimes, you have to wonder why Hollywood hates our childhood so much, that they have to desecrate every last memory of it. First, there was Michael Bay who destroyed the Transformers cartoons, and then there was that horrible movie Of Which We Shall Not Speak. The Scooby Doo cartoons were sickeningly campy to begin with, so it was no great shakes to maintain the campy persona through a feature film. The Yogi Bear movie just released (which means we will probably see the movie hit the theatres in a few months, hopefully) and early reviews have panned the movie; despite the fact that it remained faithful to its source material.
That's the problem,– the most faithful audience for any film adapted from cartoons are always the kids who grew up watching it and are now obsessive, border-line crazy adults. We have this way of always seeing everything from our childhood through rose-tinted glasses, which is why it feels like cartoons in them yester years were WAY better than the tripe they have on Cartoon Network these days (seriously, why are they so awful?). And these adult-fanboys are the WORST. The. Worst. They remember every insignificant detail from all 300 episodes of a show; they find each other online and remind each other about little now-forgotten factoids and build up anticipation for a movie to a frenzy, thereby dooming the movie.
If it remains faithful to the original show, it means that it will be completely out of place, anachronistic, and inaccessible to new audience; but the fanboys wont admit it. They would rather die rather than admit that in the harsh light of day, their much-loved cartoon is perhaps a teeny-tiny bit silly. They will say it is the fault of the film-maker. The movie bombs because nobody who didn't watch the show gets it.
If the movie is updated, fast forwarded, made relevant to this day and age; previously racist characters are removed or cardboard cutout characters are fleshed out, the fanboys get ticked off, usually with reason because of Hollywood’s aforesaid ability to destroy childhoods. "How DARE they make the previously racist character less racist? How DARE they not follow canon? We Hates it! We hates it forever!" they will shriek and tear their hair out, and proceed to blog furiously about it. The movie is a moderate success, because new audience liked it, but there just wasn't anybody to RAVE about it.
There just isn't any victory.
However, lessons can be learnt from the success story of Star Trek. New audience found it accessible, and the fanboys loved it to bits. It was an enormous hit. Oh yes, there were a few cave-dwellers who thought it was outrageous and that some blah-de-blah-yawn detail was contrary to canon in Episode 12, 00:39 mins. The secret was that J.J. Abrams was a true blue Trekkie, but also a pragmatist. He put in enough easter eggs for his fellow-Trekkies, but didn’t make the entire movie one big nod and wink. It can stand on its own too.
The same thing needs to be repeated for Jonny Quest too; because the manic frenzy has already started. The criticism is cautious because the studio has not released any details. All we know is that Zac and Dwayne are in talks. We are already frothing at the mouth at the IDEA of that emotion-less, pretty-boy brat befouling the memory of Jonny Quest.
However, since we know that Zac Efron is in talks, it is almost definite that it wont be the 60s series they will be adapting—because Jonny was just eleven years old in that series. Frankly, I’d much rather watch an older Jonny Quest, because eleven-year olds—even the ass-kicking ones, are tedious. Also, I love Jessie Bannon—she’s pretty, smart and knows how to use a sub-machine gun (And there was that one episode when her and Jonny kissed, which I will treasure forever as one of the greatest moments in television).
I’d also be happy with a fast-forwarded Jonny Quest, targeted at the young adult demographic. By all mean, put them in 2010 as opposed to 1960 or even 1995. This way they wont have to use technology which looks really cool, but has large labels on the controls like “Fuel Dump” or “Really Fast”. And they wont have to spout dialogue like “Hold on there Jessie, now that’s just too strange for school" or "Too tall for TV", because stuff like that is just not done any more.
And yes, Hadji Singh’s atrocious accent and absurd Preence of thee Keengdom of Bungalore back story needs to go. I know the fans will hate to have anything changed; that the racial stereotyping was all a part of the fun of the show, but a movie that deliberately keeps weak characters/story lines just to be faithful to the original show is not going to do very well. This is a chance for Jonny Quest and Co. to get fleshed out, more nuanced and less child-friendly.
A sensitive film-maker will be true to the spirit of the show— adventure, gruesome deaths, unexplained incidents, paranormal activity, swashbuckling all-or-nothing attitude; that’s what we loved best. Jonny being the reckless one, always up for a new adventure; Hadji as more circumspect but kicking equal amounts of ass; Jessie as the trigger-happy computer geek ; Dr. Quest as the Indiana Jones among scientists and Race Bannon who gets awesome dialogue like:
"Race, I thought you were on our side. You were a government man"
"You're right, I was. Till they made those shades a part of the uniform."
And QuestWorld. Can you even begin to IMAGINE how crazy awesome it would be with the 3D technology they have now? Please hurry up and make a Jonny Quest movie soon. And try not to screw it up. As long as you’re taking notes here, be sure to hold on to the mind-blowing soundtrack!
And please, none of those absurd, allegedly child-friendly “off-screen deaths”.