I have to say that I was a bit shaken when I read that a group in Hollywood was making a movie out of the old, “classic era,” Hanna-Barbera cartoon character, Hong Kong Phooey. Hong Kong Phooey, the television show about a mask-wearing, karate fighting dog, aired for just 16 episodes in 1974. Yet, the movie will be made for millions of dollars and will even feature the voice of Eddie Murphy.
Why was I shaken?
As a toy industry professional I was dismayed that there is actually going to be a Hong Kong Phooey movie which will undoubtedly result in Hong Kong Phooey tie-ins. After an anemic summer of underperforming movies, does the toy industry and its consumers really have to look to a future that includes Hong Kong Phooey action figures?
As a human being, I cannot believe that I and countless others are going to have to endure the resurrection of a D-List cartoon character from a B-List studio. For those of you unfamiliar with Hannah-Barbara, let me just say that though they produced some enduring characters (Fred Flintstone, George Jetson and Yogi Bear) to name three; they also produced an overwhelming number of underwhelming characters. Here are just a few:
Hair Bear (a bear with with Afro)
El Kabong (a Zorro imitation by the talking horse, Quick Draw McGraw)
Dyno-Mutt (a robot dog)
Secret Squirrel (a squirrel spy)
Peter Potamus (a hippopotamus in a pith helmet)
Loopy De Loop (a gentleman wolf)
I am all for the Boomerang Network showing these old cartoons. The kids, like their parents and grandparents, will still enjoy them; but a movie?
Let me warn you, if Hong Kong Phooey is actually made, and let us hope it is not, there is no stopping a "Breezly and Sneezly" or "Yippee, Yappee and Yahooee" movie as well (yes they are Hannah Barbara cartoon characters).
It can only be hoped that someone finally figures out that trying to make movies out of bad cartoon characters (Marmaduke springs to mind) is a bad idea before too much cartoon blood is spilled and toy industry time and money wasted.