Movies, Books, etc. That Are Clearly Budgie Jobs

You remember budgie jobs from the old Monty Python Pet Conversions skit. It refers to one animal crudely being converted to another animal, such as converting a terrier to a budgie by stapling on wings and so forth.

Well I was watching a movie called “New Rose Hotel” and I realized after a while that it was a budgie job. It was purportedly based on one of William Gibson’s cyberpunk SF stories of the same name. I enjoy Gibson’s stories about hard-edged hackers and corporate types fighting it out over the latest thing to come down the techno-pipe.

But New Rose Hotel looked and sounded like just another story of low-level hoods on the make with a street whore. Sure, it was set in Japan, and it had corporations and the occasional modern high-rise, but mostly it was close ups of William Dafoe and Christopher Walken and Asia Argento looking and acting grimy and stupid, you know, like low-level hoods and whores.

And that’s when I realized that I was looking at a budgie job – the director, Abel Ferrera, is mostly known for his crime dramas. No wonder it looked like a crime drama … it WAS a crime drama. Ferrera dusted off an old script about a couple of low-level street scum and a whore involved in scammish activities, pasted on a few corporations and a few bits of tech and added a Japanese locale, and bob’s your uncle … New Rose Hotel, a cyberpunk SF movie!

It’s a terrible movie, BTW, very boring and ugly to look at. Has NONE of the hum of biz, interesting new tech and smart, driven people on the make that Gibson’s cyberpunk movies feature.

So, what budgie jobs have you spotted lately?

What was released in America as Super Mario Brothers 2 was originally Doki Doki Panic, a completely unrelated game. That’s why it’s so different from all other SMB games.

TvTropes refers to these as “dolled-up”, and has a pretty big list of them.

That would qualify.

IIRC, the first Ender’s Game sequel (Speaker for the Dead) was written without Ender in it. Card plugged Ender in to capitalize on the success of his previous book.

In the mid-60s, when musical styles were changing rapidly, there were a number of LPs that were tinkered with to get them in synch with the current trend. One example is Eric Andersen’s 'Bout Changes ‘n’ Things, a 1966 folk album that was converted in 1967 into a folk-rock album, 'Bout Changes ‘n’ Things Take 2. (Similar to what happened to Simon & Garfunkel’s song “The Sounds of Silence.”)

A bit later was the Beatles’ Let It Be, which was originally supposed to be a totally stripped-down, back to the roots album called Get Back and got turned into… well… whatever it ended up as, a pastiche of some songs that stuck somewhat to the original concept and others that had plenty of overdubs.

Well that refers only to series, and “New Rose Hotel” was not a series. Your trope page was an interesting read, and I did find a trope that the movie definitely fits under,In Name Only, where somebody takes a work and presents it as an adaptation, sequel, etc, of some well-known work that already exists even though it’s not, just to get the movie greelit by studio execs. In this case a bog-standard crime story presented as a movie based on William Gibson’s story. Budgie job I think is still a more flexible term, describing any work of art that is disguised to look like something it is not, for whatever reason.

The film “I Robot” was the studio’s attempt to preserve their rights to the Asimov property after the estate threatened to pull them for lack of use. The studio took another science fiction film they were working on, shoehorned in a few Asimov elements and called it “I Robot”, hence its scant relation to the book.

Budgie job, all right. Actually, fits under the In Name Only trope pretty well too.

I’ll Do Anything was conceived and shot as a movie musical (the title is something of a giveaway). Preview audiences hated the musical numbers, so director James L. Brooks removed them from the film, shot a few new scenes, reedited it, and released it as a comedy/drama.

For marketing, there are many films that are marketed as comedies even though they’re more slice-of-life dramas. The Man Who Loved Women is one example.

***Cars II ***struck me as being a bland kids’ whodunnit that had the ***Cars ***characters dropped in later and a few ‘ha ha it’s different for cars’ jokes added.

The poster child for this should be Starship Troopers. I’ve always heard that Verhoeven had started working on it, when someone noticed the similarities with RAH’s book, so they acquired the rights. And you know the rest of the story.

I’m not sure whether this fits in the description’s criteria, but the Roger Corman movie The Haunted Palace is named after a poem by Edgar Allan Poe and bills itself as being based on Poe’s work…but is a very loose adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”!

According to IMDB, Corman wanted to take a break from his series of Poe adaptations and do a Lovecraft story…but the studio, American International (oxymoron?) didn’t want to take any chances and slapped the Poe title and billing on it to make it seem like it was another in the same line.

Dunno if this counts either, but IMO the plot of Avatar was largely stolen from a sci-fi trilogy called Death World by Harry Harrison.

POTC: On Stranger Tides piggybacked the POTC franchise on to Tim Powers fine book, a book I had hoped someone would make into a real movie one day. I expect they just had to buy the rights when they realized they had a supernatural pirate story involving the Fountain of Youth. Ended up with something that lessened both POTC and the book.

And Ferngully, and Dances with Wolves, and Pocahontas…

It’s not out yet, but I get a “budgie job” vibe off the trailer for The Croods.

It feels like it was originally pitched as a comedy that got its laughs from the bumbling antics of a gang of stupid characters. But at some point in production they stapled on a heart-warming family adventure story. So now they’ve got a movie about an adventurous daughter trying to be true to her heart, and an over-protective dad who needs to learn when to let go … who both happen to be part of a gang of stupid characters who are supposed to make us laugh with their bumbling antics.

This might fit…

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me”, once sold a screenplay for a movie he’d written. It pretty much sat gathering dust for years until some studio found it, added dancing, can changed the title to Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.

Which is how Peter Sagal became a credited writer of Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.

Along similar lines, when Michael Reeves’s British period horror film Witchfinder General starring Vincent Price was released in the States, it was renamed “The Conqueror Worm” after a Poe poem, re-edited, and had a Price voice-over reciting bits of the poem added at the beginning and end to try and make it look like another of the Corman Poe-based horror movies. The story has nothing whatsoever to do with Poe.

Another from that Dolled Up Installment TVTropes page:

A Shot In The Dark was a stage play (translated from a French comedy called L’Idiot) that had a completely different detective hero. But when it came time to adapt it to movie form, The Pink Panther had been so successful that the producers thought, well, why not make it a Clouseau vehicle?

(It didn’t have the famous “Pink Panther” theme, but you might recognize its theme music as the theme for the DePatie-Freleng “Inspector” cartoons.)