For fans of classic TV shows, the 1990’s was an exciting time, as numerous classic shows were brought to the big screen, thanks in part to the success of “Wayne’s World” and “The Brady Bunch” movie.
Unfortunately, for every “Wayne’s World” we got dreadful big screen renderings of films such as “Car 54: Where Are You.” When it was announced in 1994 that “Maverick” was going to be the next classic series to be brought to the big screen, many doubted the film’s success, considering that the western genre was considered dead.
This time around, James Garner was not the title role of the film. Instead, the role went to Mel Gibson of “Lethal Weapon” fame. Jodie Foster played Annabelle Bransford, the clear love interest in the film.
In an interesting casting decision, James Garner was cast in the film as a Marshall Cooper. This move alone gave fans of the classic film some continuity between the TV and big screen versions, and it was an excellent casting choice by the directors.
The next thing that really made this film work was the fact that the writers did not try to reinvent “Maverick” or go out of their way to make cheesy references to the show. Instead, the movie works well as a standalone piece that adequately introduces the characters and puts them in misadventures as they make their way to a winner takes all poker tournament.
The final bit about “Maverick” that made the film work is that it was very well written. There are numerous plot twists and turns, and while some are expected, considering it’s Bret Maverick, some are unexpected, including a big reveal at the end that makes perfect sense once viewers make the discovery.
While many did not expect much from “Maverick,” the movie proved not only to be a great big screen adaptation of a classic TV show, but also one of the most successful westerns in the history of American cinema. In addition, directors chose not to make any sequels and to conclude the “Maverick” story with this movie. Had other films chosen to take such an approach, maybe we would not have been subjected to box office bombs such as “Wayne’s World 2.”