Thursday Movie Picks: Worst Book to Move Adaptations

 

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is all about those book adaptations that just let us down. We all have them. It's hard as hell to translate a book to screen. Very few have done it well. Here are some films where I felt they were lacking compared to their book counterparts. 


1) The Lovely Bones -
I should say that I don't hate this movie. I actually really liked the cast and I think they were great in their roles, but I wish a woman would've directed this. What makes The Lovely Bones so compelling and sad is Susie having to watch everything she's missing out on go on without her. How she never gets to have these "firsts" she looked forward to as a young woman. Director Peter Jackson chose to brush over that quickly and instead focus on the more fantastical elements of the story that were not even important. I hope someone takes another crack at this again in the future, even though Saoirse really was the perfect Susie.


2) The Woman in The Window -
I didn't hate this either, it was fine, but the fact that they cut out such a large part of the novel, mainly Anna's online relationships, it makes the third act feel like it came out of nowhere and was just penciled in. All the reasoning for the big twist is thrown out the window and we're just given a short explanation that wasn't in the book at all. I was going to go with Girl on a Train here, but this one unseated this.


3) The Cat in the Hat -
Not that I felt very strongly about an adaptation to this memorable children's classic but holy shit was the Mike Myers version bad.



28 comments:

  1. I ADORED the Lovely Bones as a book and only liked the movie in comparison. I think the cast is fantastic for the most part, but I agree on what you said. They managed to get a lot of the uneasiness across, but I felt like they lost a lot of the emotional depth somehow. But maybe it was also just too much material for one movie, if that makes sense.

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    1. They really did, especially the ending. They just didn't get those emotional moments, which is such a shame with the cast they had.

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  2. I've only seen (and read) The Woman in the Window and I absolutely hated it. The book wasn't perfect but I enjoyed it, but this film was a mess. It really bothered me how they omitted so much of the book (especially the online "friends") and the acting from the kid is so sarcastic, he never comes off as a nice dude. Gary Oldman playing the father wasn't enough to make you believe he did it. The way the kid acted way it away immediately in my opinion.

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    1. That kid was awful. He played him like he was on the spectrum and not a sociopath with serious daddy issues.

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  3. I haven't seen these but have heard of all of course.

    The Lovely Bones was so beautifully written that I was relatively sure the movie would be a letdown. Then it came out to those savage reviews and I just could never bring myself to watch despite the cast.

    The Woman in the Window is out for me, I avoid that Adams woman like the plague!

    Live action Cat in the Hat....stupid idea! I won't waste my time.

    I couldn't use the first that came to mind, the absolutely appallingly bad miniseries of one of my favorite books-Pillars of the Earth because it was a TV adaptation but since there are so many book to screen letdowns it wasn't hard to find three others.

    The Scarlet Letter (1995)-In a 17th century Massachusetts Puritan settlement Hester Prynne has a secret adulterous affair with the local minister Arthur Dimmesdale while her husband is in Europe resulting in the birth of a child-Pearl. Condemned by the townspeople she is forced to wear a scarlet A in perpetuity to atone for her sin. Such is the meat of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s moralistic novel, but you will find extraordinarily little of any message, or anything else, in this sexed up hash that stars Demi Moore and Gary Oldman. When it’s not vulgar it’s stupid.

    All the King’s Men (2006)-Southerner Willie Stark is a simple man who once he is elected to office slides wholly into corruption stepping on anyone in his way and crushing enemies and friends alike in his insatiable quest for power until a reckoning befalls him. Author Robert Penn Warren’s roman a clef novel of the rise and fall of politician Huey Long won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into an Oscar winning film (Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress) in the 50’s. All that is thrown away in this cinematic dog where the director managed to attract an amazing cast (including Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Mark Ruffalo) and guided them all to giving some of their worst performances in a film that is both overblown and boring.

    Romeo & Juliet (1936)-The tragic story of impulsive teenagers who because of their families enmity feel compelled to take drastic measures rather than be parted. More a stage text than a book but either way this stiff and clunky adaptation shots itself in the foot coming out of the starting gate by having 34-year-old Norma Shearer playing the 13-year-old Juliet and even worse Leslie Howard aged 43! cast as her 16-year-old swain!

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    1. I never did see All The King's Men, I'm not sure how I missed that movie. The Scarlet Letter I had to read in school and despised it. It made me hate reading for a while.

      OMG that casting, I saw the 60's version of Romeo and Juliet in school and our English teacher had to pause the movie and yell at my class for getting distracted at Juliet's uh...figure. lol

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    2. I didn't like Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter either, come to that I couldn't make it through his House of Seven Gables!, but I did see a version in the early 80's with Meg Foster & John Heard as Hester and Dimmesdale that was decent. Since the story always seemed to have possibilities despite the dull way Hawthorne laid it out I've given a couple different versions a chance. The Lillian Gish silent was too drawn out but she was good and of course the delightful reworking Easy A is terrific. But this Demi Moore version basically used the title for name recognition and discarded any semblance of story or sense. You've missing nothing by not having seen it.

      As far as All the King's Men, avoid this one and watch the 50's version. It's not a definitive take on the book, which is excellent, but is worthwhile. It helps if you know something about Huey Long before you watch it to see the parallels Penn Warren drew.

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    3. I spent a lot of time on Spark Notes and Grade Saver when I had to do my work on The Scarlet Letter because I'd honestly read a paragraph, nod off a bit, then completely forget everything about it. It was so incredibly dull. In that class, we read To Kill A Mocking Bird after this and it was like night and day. Compelling booking that I read ahead and finished almost immediately.

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  4. I think I watched 15 minutes of the cat in the hat and stopped. (My kids watched the rest). SO bad. I never watched The Lovely Bones although I enjoyed the book. The cast seemed amazing but too many people said it just didn't live up to the novel at all, so I didn't bother!

    I'm not a fan of the Woman in the Window's author, but the book was entertaining enough when I read it for my book club. I was excited to see they were making a movie, but then reading about the changes, I opted not to watch. Sigh.

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    1. The author is a dumpster fire. I didn't read about him until after I read the book. I'm not sure I would've picked it up otherwise.

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  5. I really like The Lovely Bones, but I didn't read the book, so there's that.

    I've read The Cat in the Hat a thousand times and had very young kids when it came out, so of course we saw it in the theater. I don't recall a theater experience so painful as that. Yeesh.

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    1. I think The Lovely Bones is a really good movie if you haven't read the book, but if you have...it lacks. Yes, Cat in the Hat was very painful for all ages, I think.

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  6. Great list! I saw the Cat in the Hat and man, did I hate that adaptation! Everything in that film was just so horrible and they did the book injustice!

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    1. I don't even like the book that much outside of nostalgia but that movie just was not it.

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  7. The Lovely Bones... man that was a disappointment. Lynne Ramsay was supposed to direct this film as she had a manuscript of that book before it even became this big phenomenon. Then the book became massive and Peter Jackson came in and Ramsay was out of the project leaving her to not make a film for 9 years until We Need to Talk About Kevin. Man, Jackson fucked that film up bad.

    The Cat in the Hat... ONE OF THE WORST FUCKING FILMS EVER MADE!!!! No wonder Dr. Seuss' widow got pissed off. I don't blame her.

    Loki made me cry when he saw that his family did love him.

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    1. God I wish I could see Lynn Ramsay's The Lovely Bones. That would be amazing.

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  8. Even though I haven't read the books, I remember how much The Lovely Bones was panned for Peter's choices. I'll never forget that Ryan Gosling dropping out of this gave us Lars and The Real Girl. lol The Cat in the Hat looked traumatizing from the trailers, so I never gave it a-go. Nice picks!

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    1. I really liked Lars and the Real Girl so good on him lol. I felt bad that Peter Jackson essentially fired him for getting fat.

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  9. I definitely need to read The Woman in the Window now to compare the two. I haven't seen your other picks. I love Mike Myers in Austin Powers but I just can't bring myself to try The Cat in the Hat.

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    1. It's a really solid mystery. I'm bummed the movie couldn't capture that, but I was expecting it not to.

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  10. I don't know anything about the first two, but that Mike Myers movie is appalling.

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    1. I still don't even know who that movie was for. It failed on so many fronts.

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  11. I have not read the first 2 choices you have here so I liked The Lovely Bones and found Ronan so good and Stanley Tucci just so creepy and evil. I have not seen your second pick but willing to give it a chance. I have read The Cat in the Hat but even the clips from this flick is enough to make me want to throw up my cookies. Hey while writing this, I am listening to music and the announcer said there will be another installment of Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford. I wonder if we will see him looking for his peas on his plate before they wheel him over to room.

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    1. LMAO that's so mean! I definitely don't need another Indiana Jones movie. I'm not sure I know anyone who is a fan of the original series that actively wants another one either.

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  12. I felt bad too. But at the same time, I think Jackson had plans to thin his hair and Gosling was going for Christian Bale's bod in American Hustle. I'm not sure how either of them thought that was going to work. lol

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    1. And to think all of this could've been solved by just *talking* to one another. lol

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  13. I've never watched The Cat in the Hat but I remember the trailer which looked just appaling.

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