Some of the best films ever made have one thing in common: rich source material. When a screenplay is based on a novel, biography, stage play or historical event, it can often be quite challenging to do justice to the original material within the confines of an almost two-hour format. As the studios grasp at straws in the high-stakes world of feature films, they have increasingly come to rely on concepts that were never intended to sustain an entertainment vehicle costing hundreds of millions of dollars with a running time of 90 minutes or more.
Some immensely popular films have been based on comic books, which at least are serials that have been produced over decades, during which dozens of characters and complicated plots have been introduced. Even a few movies based on “Saturday Night Live” sketches such as “Wayne’s World” and “The Blues Brothers” have been successful. Nonetheless, films based on “SNL” material overall have a losing track record with such bombs as “Coneheads,” “It’s Pat,” “A Night at the Roxbury,” “The Ladies Man” and now “MacGruber.”