Monday, November 07, 2011

When the Movie Ruins the Book

by C.L. Phillips

True confession.  I think casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the upcoming movie of one of Lee Child's books is a sin against nature, art, and all things holy.  Okay, maybe I'm overstating my case.

But after reading To Kill a Mockingbird (for the first time ever) and then watching the movie with Gregory Peck, I realized how rare it is for a movie to be as gifted as a book.  Sure the Harry Potter movies were enjoyable, but I'd take the books any day of the week. My imagination can outstrip the average man's film camera.

So when it comes to movie adaptations, which ones were a crime?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I'm betting One for the Money makes the list. Wait, that movie's not out yet.  :)


Joyce said...

I don't know--I saw the trailer for One For The Money and it looked pretty good.

I recently read an interview with Lee Child about Tom Cruise playing Reacher. He said he had faith that Cruise could pull it off.

I have to say the absolute worse film adaptation I've ever seen is Gods and Generals. It's based on Jeff Shaara's book but they left out most of the book and focused on Stonewall Jackson (who was a lunatic). It's full of way over-the-top melodrama. We're in the middle of watching the director's cut and I've decided no matter how many scenes they add, the movie still sucks.

C.L. Phillips said...

My beef with the One for the Money trailer is the casting of Joe Morelli. I wanted someone....more classically NJ Italian. Darker hair, bigger eyebrows, and saucier eyes.

Of course, it probably doesn't help that I lived three miles from the 'Burg.

Jenna said...

I'm reserving judgment on One for the Money until January. I had doubts about Anne Heigl, but after seeing the trailer, I'm OK with her. I'm not happy about Debbie Reynolds, and I have concerns about Ranger, who seemed too bland, at least in the trailer. As for Morelli, he may not look exactly like the Morelli in my head, but I think he'll do a good job. Again, judging from the trailer.

I'm not even gonna touch the Tom Cruise/Jack Reacher thing. And with all due respect to Lee Child, I disagree. It's a damn shame.

I thought the Harry Potter movies were pretty good. The casting overall was superb, with just a few mistakes (IHMO). But yeah, of course the books are better. They had to cut so much. If you were to make a true movie of each book, it'd be eight hours long.

Even a classic like Gone With the Wind pales in comparison to the book. Where are Scarlett's other children, for God's sake?

I do think, though, that movies make stories accessible to people who wouldn't otherwise know about them. And if after seeing the movie, they decide to read the book, then so much the better.

Jenna said...

That should be "IMHO" of course, not "IHMO"...

My word verification this time is verbefuc. Just thought I'd share that.

Ramona said...

Helen Hunt's film adaptation of Elinor Lipman's wonderful novel And Then She Found Me was a criminal act. And this is a movie with Colin Firth in it!

I like Tom Cruise. I think if you get past the crazy, he's a good actor. For a positive example, I think the adaptation of The Firm, and his acting in the film, were terrific.

C.L. Phillips said...

We could hardly expect Lee Child to say anything about the Cruise casting, now can we?

Discretion. Valor. Tequila. :)

And my word for the day, destries!

Kelly Robinson said...

It's not even out yet, but the Great Gatsby remake with DiCaprio turns my stomach just thinking about it.

Patg said...

I think Catherine Heigl might pull it off, but the true sin is Debbie Reynolds. She's a cute, little butter ball of California ex-starlet, not a shrunken, over permed, aging Jersy shrew. That maniacal look in the trailer shows she didn't study for her part.
The 1991, V I Warshawski movie was the epitome of BAD.

Gina said...

I'm giving Tom Cruise the benefit of the doubt. A lot of people (including Anne Rice) thought he was dreadfully miscast as Lestat in Interview With The Vampire until the movie came out and they saw what a great job he did, then even Anne was converted. He's a very good actor. I think he can pull it off.

C.L. Phillips said...

I thought Cruise as Lestat was one of the few times I didn't see "Tom Cruise" in one of his portrayals. He was brilliant in that role.

My fear? Ethan (Cruise's Misson Impossible character) intertwined with Jack Reacher. :)

But one movie adapation I loved? Solider, Tailor, Tinker, Spy the John Lecarre book. Hope I got that title right. I have nanowrimo brain. :)

Mary Sutton said...

There are too many bad ones for me to count, the most recent of which was the film adaptation of "The Lightning Thief," which even my 9-year old pronounced "meh" (hello, left out half the plot!). I actually think the Potter movies were decent and got better as they went along (yes, a lot of stuff had to be cut because of time).

My three faves? "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Inherit the Wind" (the original with Spencer Tracy & Frederick March), and Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (which yes, changed quite a bit, but was phenomenally true to the spirit of Tolkien's books, which were completely not able to be literally translated to screen).