The Best and Worst of Book to Movie Adaptations

Believe it or not, there are some books out there that were made into pretty damned good movies. It happens. Admittedly not very often, but it does. My top four best screen adaptations are as follows (in no particular order):

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

I was not thrilled with the casting of Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian or John C. Reilly as Franklin.  Quite possibly the most unlikely pairing I’ve ever witnessed on screen. Despite this, it was acted out brilliantly, was true to the book, and I don’t think it’s possible to have come across a more chillingly convincing Kevin.

Fight Club – Chuck Palahnuik

There’s a reason why this film has cult status. Dare I say it was a smidgen better than the book? It was visually quite amazing although reading/studying the book in university after I had watched the film, gave me a deeper appreciation of what Palahnuik was trying to do/say about masculinity and consumer culture.

American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis

In my opinion, one of the best books ever written. And although nothing can quite capture the alluring monotony of the book, I think Christian Bale did a pretty damned good job in Patrick Bateman’s shoes. He was both horrifying and funny, a difficult combination to execute well.

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

This was very well done – very gritty, very real. Whoever’s idea it was to turn it into a mini series with each episode dedicated to a single character, was brilliant. With movies made from books, you’re usually always disappointed with casting and how it’s never quite how you visualised it. Not the case here – it was better! The script/actors really bought the moral complexity of the whole ‘slap’ situation to life.

And the ones that failed to live up to their books….

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Very few people will agree with me on this. It’s not that the film was bad, but it was all so bright coloured and light hearted, doing very little to remind me that I actually cried when reading the book. Seriously, the film was like a comedy.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

I genuinely do love to watch the Bridget Jones series whenever I need something mindless to do. The first Bridget Jones movie is great, but the second one? They successfully managed to turn Bridget into a bumbling fool slash moron. Hopping around like an idiotic penguin, there’s no way I would be seen out with her let alone anyone resembling Mark Darcy. It’s almost as though because she’s ‘fat’, she has to be an idiot, the butt of every joke. The Bridget Jones in the book is not an idiot.

One Day – David Nicholls

The failure of this film still hurts me, and I know I’m not alone here. To say I was disappointed with this movie would be an understatement. I absolutely fell in love with the book then spent the hour and 47 minutes of the film wondering why on earth they chose Ann Hathaway to play someone supposedly from Yorkshire and why the chemistry between the two main characters was lukewarm at best. And don’t get me started on that whole thing about Dexter’s letter that was never delivered being omitted from the movie. The whole thing was just infuriating.

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

This has got to be the all time biggest book to movie FAIL. How you can just go and change the ending of a novel so that the meaning of the entire story is completely different to how the author intended, I don’t know. I have never been so infuriated by the ending of a movie as I was with this. By simply ignoring the author’s twist it’s just another story about dealing with cancer.

And just to finish off; Films that you probably didn’t know (but don’t care) were books first:

  • Charlie St. Cloud (Book called The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood) – YAWN. Even Zack Efron’s face couldn’t save this disaster.
  • Love and Other Drugs (Book called Hard Sell by Jamie Reidy) – Half way through watching this film with my sisters, we paused, looked at one another and realised that we simply did not give a damn what happened to either Anne Hathaway or Jake Gylennhall. Filled with gratuitous nudity that was more embarrassing than titillating, this was an hour (that’s as far we could handle it) of my life I will never get back.
  • The Silver Linings Playbook (Book has the same name, written by Matthew Quick) – The most overrated film of 2012. Fact.
  • Riding In Cars With Boys (Book called Riding In Cars With Boys: Confessions of a Bad Girl Who Makes Good by Beverly Donofrio – Completely unmemorable.

Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops.

SAM_2991_1

There are a lot of strange people in this world. Some of them make into bookshops and ask silly questions. Here are a selection of the most ‘omg-are-you-serious?’ questions and comments.

CUSTOMER: Did they make a film edition of the Bible when The Passion of the Christ came out? You know, the text of the Bible, but with Mel Gibson on the front cover?

 

CUSTOMER: Do you have an LGBT fiction section?

BOOKSELLER: We don’t have a specific section, but we do have LGBT literature – Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson etc Which author were you looking for?

CUSTOMER: Don’t worry, I’ll have a look through the fiction section – thanks for your help.

OTHER CUSTOMER: Sorry, did I hear you right? Did you just say that all the homosexual books are in with the normal fiction?

BOOKSELLER: All our fiction is one section.

(Other Customer looks suspiciously at the book she’s holding and slides it back on the shelf)

SAM_2986_1

CUSTOMER (pondering): How much would a signed copy of the Bible be worth?

BOOKSELLER: Signed by whom?

CUSTOMER: Well…I don’t know. Not God, obviously. (Nervous laugh.) That would be silly…wouldn’t it?

 

CUSTOMER: Pride and Prejudice was published a long time ago, right?

BOOKSELLER: Yep.

CUSTOMER: I thought so. Colin Firth’s looking really good for his age, then.

 

WOMAN (holding a copy of a Weight Watchers book in one hand, and The Hunger Games in the other): Which of these diet books would you recommend most?

SAM_2990_1

CUSTOMER (to her friend): What about this book? (holds up a copy of The Hobbit).

CUSTOMER: No. I don’t want to read that. It’ll spoil the film.

 

CUSTOMER: Do you have audiobooks on sign language?

 

CUSTOMER: I’d like to buy a book for my wife.

BOOKSELLER: Sure, what sort of book?

CUSTOMER: I don’t know. Something…pink? Women like pink stuff, right?

 

CUSTOMER: Urgh. Shakespeare. He’s everywhere, isn’t he? You can’t escape him. I wish he’d do us all a favour and just die already.

SAM_2982_1

CUSTOMER: I’m looking for the fourth Fifty Shades of Grey book.

BOOKSELLER: There are only three in the series.

CUSTOMER: No, there are four. I saw it in another shop yesterday. It’s really big. It’s called Fifty Shades Trilogy.

BOOKSELLER: …That’s the box set.

 

CUSTOMER: Do you have a copy of Atonement? But not the film cover, please. Keira Knightley’s neck makes me want to punch things.

SAM_2977_1