Sunday, November 26, 2006

Better Than The Book?

Holiday weekends are often big movie release weekends, and I’ll bet a bunch of you went to the theater. (Especially Buzz Girl Movie Buff Heather?)

What I’m wondering is if any of you walked out and turned to a companion and said, “Wow, that film was even better than the book!”

I’m guessing that answer is no. Not all films start out as books, of course. And it’s the general consensus that with ones that do, most lose something in the translation. Rather like the low-fat version of a fried food or dessert.

However, given my penchant for Jell-O Fat Free Chocolate Pudding, I have seen some films I actually thought improved on the book. And while I can’t join the buzz on any of this season’s hottest releases, I can share these examples...

The First Wives Club. A witty screenplay, ’60s music, and what I heard was numerous ad-libs from Bette Midler brought added sparkle to an already terrific concept.

The Perfect Storm. While I enjoyed elements of the book, the film wins raves from me for its suspenseful pacing, and poignant focus on the characters’ struggles and dreams. (And okay, going back to last week’s post, it also gets a high-five for featuring George Clooney).

Bridget Jones’ Diary
. I loved the book, and worried how I’d react to the film. But I found the storyline in the screen version tighter, the dialogue sharper, plus Colin Firth and Hugh Grant breathed sexy life into her leading men, earning a Bravo from me.

The Bridges of Madison County
. In Clint Eastwood’s hands, the central characters had a dimension and humanness that allowed me to understand the depth of their struggle in a way I didn’t grasp from the book. I’ve cried every time I’ve watched it.

So, how about you? Are there any movies--old or new--you thought took a book’s premise to a higher dimension?


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Anonymous said...

Great question, Tina. Right off I can think of movies that were horribly worse than the book, such as the Handmaid's Tale. That movie more than butchered the great book by Margaret Atwood.

But after pondering a bit, I think I did like In Her Shoes, at least as much as the book.

Now, after some coffee, I may think of another one.


Marley Gibson said...

I love Bridget Jones in any concept or version or incarnation. I considered the BJD movies as "additional books" considering how much they changed both books on the screen. I still love the first movie very much. The second one, she was like a cartoon character.

The movie ELECTION (Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon) was much better than the book. The book didn't explore the characters as much as it could have. Plus, the movie is a classic.

GONE WITH THE WIND isn't necessarily better than the book, but it certainly did the book justice (although they killed off Scarlett's other children) and brought the story to life.

I thought THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS was better in the movie form than the book. The book left some things ambiguous to me, but the movie made it more clear. Plus, I love America Ferrer.

I went to see STRANGER THAN FICTION Friday afternoon and it was a beautiful movie!! Every writer needs to see it. A must. Just loved it.

Marley = )
...also a movie buff

chanceofbooks said...

I agree about Bridget Jones and Bridges of Madison County. Other movies that I liked more than the books: The Color Purple. Waiting to Exhale. I liked both versions of In Her Shoes and Must Like Dogs.

stephhale said...

Great post, Tina! I so miss going to the movies. But with little ones it is a guilty pleasure only enjoyed every three or four months now. I also liked Must like Dogs, and In Her Shoes. I also loved the book, KISS THE GIRLS, and I thought the movie was excellent.

TinaFerraro said...

Wow, so many great recommendations and observations here--thanks, all!

And Marley, I have long had the same beef with GWTW the film: Scarlett's other kids! Otherwise, incredible movie, worth watching again and again.

And I've never seen IN HER SHOES, so that's going on my Netflix list.

Finally, I have never read COLD MOUNTAIN, but I adored the film, and that surprised a couple friends who had trouble finishing the book. Does anyone have first hand experience on that one?


Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

I love the BJ Diary movies! I'm really waiting for Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas to make it to the big screen. =D

Young Adult Authors said...


Chiming in here, Tina, to say that the book of Cold Mountain is sooooooo much better than the movie. Forget that Jude Law is gorgeous and that the film is visually stunning... the book makes so much more sense and is one I have reread several times. Okay, can you tell I have strong feelings on this? hahah.

Bridget's movie rocked for sure. Not the second one, just the first. And, I wish I'd read the book -- but About a Boy was a great movie. I need to read the book...

Marley Gibson said...

Chiming in here, Tina, to say that the book of Cold Mountain is sooooooo much better than the movie.

Yeah, but Heather...the book doesn't let you get a good gawk at Jude Law's butt. :::EEEEG:::

Marley = )

TinaFerraro said...

Okay, Heather and Marley, you've convinced me. COLD MOUNTAIN--the novel--is officially on my Xmas list.



Simone Elkeles said...

Books that I remember reading and then seeing them turned into movies:

The color Purple: Too angsty for me but the movie was unbelievably fabulous

Circle of Friends: Loved the book, but loved the ending of the movie better...I'm a sucker for happy endings

Message in a Bottle: Hate sad endings like this and the book was way better than the movie but I liked watching the actors anyway.

Can't think of any more off hand, but I did take a class in college on how plays were turned into movies. Got a "B", I think.

~Simone Elkeles
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation in bookstores NOW!

TinaFerraro said...

Simone, I'd forgotten about CIRCLE OF FRIENDS. Thanks. Yeah, the movie's ending satisfied more than the book, huh?


Anonymous said...

I'm not a big movie person. Actually, that's an understatement! I can't sit still that long =) So I haven't seen any of the movies you mentioned. However, I absolutely LOVE the Lord Of The Rings movies, but I cannot stand the books. The books were so horribly dull and dragged on and on with things that had NOTHING to do with the plot at all, and the movies cut all of that out.

Anonymous said...

Most definitely BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY. The book was okay, but the movie is one of my top three movies of all time. I can quote just about the whole thing. :)

PRINCESS DIARIES I & II...don't get me wrong, I love the books, but Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews made the story come to life for me.

DANCES WITH WOLVES...again, I enjoyed the book, but the movie is AWESOME. I watch it several times a year, and cry every single time.

LORD OF THE RINGS. I can't stand reading the books, which probably resembles heresy in some circles, but hey! I can't help it. The movies, however, are ones I'll treasure forever.

KISS THE GIRLS & SILENCE OF THE LAMBS...both great books, and equally great movies.

I'm sure there are more, but I've been up for about twenty hours now, and I'm slightly delirious!

TinaFerraro said...

Jen, your brain is sure sharp when it's sleep deprived! :) Thanks for jumping in and giving us your thoughts (and yeah, I totally agree about KISS THE GIRLS and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS).