The Top 10 Animated Films Based on TV Cartoons

6) Teacher’s Pet
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Buy it on Amazon

Dammit! I have just as little experience with that ugly purple dog that sounds like Timon as I do with Rugrats in Paris! Of all the films on this list, this little theatrical ditty is the one the fewest of us have seen. You’re probably asking yourself “why does this even exist?” but the critical praise it received should shed a little insight on why Disney thought they had every reason to think they had a hit on its hands. Obviously, I was aging out of Teacher’s Pet’s demo, but upon further inspection it, it does look as if the show was a victim of much sadder circumstances.


Teacher’s Pet premiered somewhat successfully in the ABC Kids Saturday morning block in Fall of 2000, and even garnered some Emmy wins, including one for voice actor Nathan “Gay Timon” Lane. Sadly, it accomplished all of this during the rapid decline of the Saturday morning cartoon ratings. Toon Disney, a 24-hour cartoon cable channel owned by the same people as ABC (don’t make me spell it out) had launched two years prior, where Pet was eventually moved during the middle of its second season. One would guess that was in hopes that the show would fare better on Toon Disney, however, it essentially ripped the program away from its established (albeit shrinking) network audience, while trying to re-establish the show with a on cable against a shitload of competition. By the time the movie hit theaters, ABC was dissolving it’s Saturday morning cartoon block entirely, so what had tested well enough to be bumped up from what was to be the first of many direct-to-video films, now sadly stands as a finale to the little series that couldn’t.

5) South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Buy it on Amazon

Man, I am so happy I got to grow up in the South Park phenomenon. TV animation nerds can and will heap a ton of praise on The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, etc., and rightfully so. But putting aside all those scholarly reasons folks could call a cartoon groundbreaking, South Park was fucking filthy and truly paved the way for cable cartoons that could appeal to adults and not just families. And the movie, it’s title one big stupid dick joke, was even filthier. South Park: BLU mocked its own pop culture status and essentially set the tone for what the Comedy Central program would become for ever after (a show that mercilessly satirized topical controversies instead of trying to create them.) On top of all that, it’s an incredibly competent, ultra-sincere musical, and it was the kind movie theaters hadn’t seen in years. And I’m not just talking about the dueling anuses, Disney had ditched its traditional song and dance numbers (Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Treasure Planet) in order to keep with the times.

I’m not gonna spoil this for you

And even though I’ll never not love this movie, it seems a lot less theatrical nowadays. At the time, the animation quality and R-rated content were definitely not something you would see on TV. However, South Park has been widescreen for almost a decade, the animation has been kicked up substantially, and if you’re watching the show on Hulu, it’s completely uncensored as far as I can tell. My favorite standout moment from South Park’s last season surpasses damn near anything seen in the film in terms of shock-based giggles (seriously watch Cock Magic) and Trey Parker & Matt Stone don’t seem to have any interest in another South Park movie. It’s hard to blame them. They apparently have all the freedom they could ever want, and if you saw either the Imagination Land or Console Wars arcs, the kids of South Park can capably tackle feature-length fun on their own terms.

4) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Buy it on Amazon

I would argue that when the dust settles on the next decade, there will be one Batman movie that will stand the test of time longer than any other. Not so fast, Christopher Nolan! (For the record, there have been NINE theatrically released Batman films pre-Ben Affleck.) It’s impossible to overstate just how much Batman: The Animated Series defined what people just associate with today as Basic Batman. The look, the tone, the non-lethal master detectivery. The Batman you know follows a template largely laid by an mid-90s afternoon cartoon show, and I’m 100% certain the movie’s enhanced presentation will help it hold up much longer that anything Tim Burton and Adam West were ever involved in. It’s timeline jumps around like Citizen Kane. It’s part prequel, part love story. It’s balls-out violent, guns blazin’ with a higher body count than most audiences were ready for. And lastly, it’s a wonderfully dark, honest portrayal of Bruce Wayne as essentially batshit nuts.

When Bruce met the Batmobile

Because Warner Bros. was so impressed by the first season of the show, what began as a direct-to-video spin-off was given an increase in budget and resources. Mask of the Phantasm graduated into theaters in December of 1993, and to give you some idea where the moviegoing public’s collective heads were at, that’s just a few months before The Lion King and a year and change after the now laughable Batman Returns. WB’s faith was not rewarded, and Batman’s sole animated film was considerable flop in theaters. But it ain’t all bad news! Mask of the Phantasm literally blazed the trailer for DC’s animation division (which is of a far superior quality compared to its live-action fare IMO), made it’s money back on video, and in 2011, Time Magazine called it the 8th best superhero movie ever made. (Don’t bother reading the rest of that list if you want that to mean anything.)

18 thoughts on “The Top 10 Animated Films Based on TV Cartoons

  1. Love, love, love this.
    reminds me I need to revisit the Spongebob and Simpsons movie. I enjoyed them in theaters, and I’m sure I’ll still enjoy them now.

    Fun fact – pretty sure Mr. Krabs whispers ‘mumble-mumble-jackass-mumble-mumble’ into Spongebob’s ear at the start of the movie.

  2. I am way more excited for this new Spongebob movie than a 20-year-old male should be, and this article, along with the newest Lasertime have only heightened my enthusiasm. I remember seeing the first Spongebob movie in the theater back in 2004, and still to this day, it’s way better than a Spongebob movie has any right to be (or the new seasons of the show for that matter). Here’s to hoping that this new movie can be just as enjoyable and not just a shameless Smurfification of the series.

  3. Recently watched Bevis and Butthead do America and it still holds up. Glad I wasnt alone in my love for it. I had a local video store in my hometown that would hang new release posters up in the windows but would allow customers to write there intials on the back to claim the poster once its time had past. I was a video renting fool durring this time but sadly this theatrical poster was one of the few to slip my grasp! And Selina….? What? Love this classic Antista style article and layout. Please excuse me while I look it over again like a kid with a new issue of Gamepro.

  4. What I love about this article is that I have memories of every one of these movies as a kid. From watching Veggie Tales as a kid with my sisters, watching the Rugrats movie when I was around or so and spending hours upon hours playing the N64 game based on it, seeing the Spongebob Movie in theatres and watching the Beavis and Butthead movie with my immature jackass friend who was my own personal Butthead.

    Very good article Chris. As a fan of animation myself I can’t wait for the corresponding article on shitty animated movies as i’m sure i’ve watched a few of those myself.

  5. Nothing against the late Don Lafontaine, but does it seem like movie trailers from the 80’s and 90’s are really, really bad? Anyways great article, can’t wait for part two.

  6. Great article. I really enjoys these older trailers. Also anyone else notice the ridiculous amount of upskirt shots in that Chipmonk clip?

  7. Homer pumping the double bird is one of the funniest things I’ve seen on the last 10 years. I know people make a deal out of him being extra mean and inconsiderate and all that, and they’re not wrong, but I’ll give him that one. always makes me smile

  8. So I’m watching that Chipmunks video and it occurs to me, the Chipettes don’t actually look like chipmunks.

    The Chipmunks, yeah, they look like anthromorphesized chupmunks. But the Chipettes just look like girls.

    I think it’s the fact that they have human hair.

  9. I love The Simpsons Movie. And like you mentioned on the podcast Chris, I hope there is a re-release of The Simpsons Movie that includes all the footage, deleted scenes, and guest stars that got cut. I always felt that the special features for The Simpsons Movie was a bit lackluster.

    Also, I might prefer another Simpsons movie over another Simpsons season.

  10. Man, I need to revisit some of these. Awesome article Chris.
    I can’t remember if parts of that Chipmunks clip actually made sense in the movie’s context, but it was brilliant. Where did they get those hot air balloons? And why can’t we have more bad guys with one gold tooth non-stealthily CRAWLING up stairs so intensely in more things?? I really love this shit. Thanks for reminding me of why I used to like the chipmunks.

  11. I groaned a little bit when I saw another cartoon episode, but I ended up enjoying this way more than I thought. Makes me want to go back and watch a bunch of these. Can’t wait for part 2!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *