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The Best and Worst Book-to-Film Adaptations...


Metropolisforever
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A poem about The Cat in the Hat (2003):

 

Adults fondly remember animation past,

like "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and "The Cat in the Hat."

 

But Hollywood strangely prefers live action

and ruins those memories to its lone satisfaction.

 

Jim Carrey played Grinch; now Mike Myers plays Cat.

Though Carrey held his own, Myers falls flat.

 

Garish colors and quips do not a movie make,

but see it if you insist -- this is just my take.

 

Siblings Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad (Spencer Breslin) are left home alone

by their mother (Kelly Preston), who's stuck at work on the phone.

 

Though they're instructed to leave the whole house pristine,

from nowhere arrives a one-cat wrecking machine.

 

His goal is quite clear: Show the kids how to have fun.

The audience, meanwhile, gets to have none.

 

All we learn in this town of neon-colored hordes,

is that product placement rules, which explains all the Fords.

 

This Cat's like a **** from which we all sit downwind.

He's a bit of Buddy Hackett, and a lot of Paul Lynde.

 

Though Myers tries to provide some unique comic thrills,

his Cat's about as funny as a stand-up in the Catskills.

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I haven't seen the 2003 version of The Cat in the Hat, so I can't comment on how bad it is.

 

But any version of Moby Dick that has Ahab killing the whale (ie. the 1930 version) has to be a bad adaptation.

 

That's not to say the movie itself is bad. If they had kept the title The Sea Beast, having been based on the silent movie of that name, it wouldn't be that bad a movie. But anybody looking for Herman Melville's story is going to be severely disappointed.

 

Then there's The English Patient, who in real life was a gay Hungarian Nazi. That kind of screws up the movie's love story. :-)

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I just saw Atonement and thought it was one of the best adaptations I've ever seen. It truly lifted the book off of the page and onto the screen flawlessly. It's one of my favorite books, and very language-driven with writing that took my breath away, so I was really afraid that it wouldn't translate. I was VERY pleasantly surprised as I'm almost always disappointed (as so many are) by seeing books I love made into films.

 

Also, for anyone who thinks there are no great movies being made anymore, see Atonement and tell me if you still think that.

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Auntie Mame...the Roz Russell version of course.

 

Read the book if you can get a hold of a copy. So much left out of the play and movie because they couldn't possibly include it all. The chapters abt Patrick's college days with his girlfriend "Bubbles" and when Auntie Mame took in some displaced English orphans, not exactly apple cheeked darlings from Britain, but nasty little guttersnipes with overactive libidos.

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Then there's The English Patient, who in real life was a gay Hungarian Nazi. That kind of screws up the movie's love story.

 

 

Well, that may or may not be the case; however, if we're just talking about a movie adaptation of a book, The English Patient was a brilliant one. If the author of the book changed the sexual preference of the character for the novel, you can't expect the film adaptators to change it to something else. The only change the movie makers made was in giving more weight to the Ralph Fiennes-Kristin Scott Thomas story as opposed to the Juliet Binoche-Naveen Andrews relationship. In the novel, the two stories share almost equal "billing." The film, in my opinion, is the best Hollywood movie in the last 15-20 years and one of the very best novels-to-film adaptations ever done.

 

On another note, I recently saw Adaptation, and I agree with the two posters who found it thrilling. I, too, loved the book, and was very pleasantly surprised at how well the filmmakers were able to adapt such a non-linear literary achievement with such success. A terrific film.

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The Diary of a Country Priest and The Leopard are the only great 20th century novels made into great movies. I also have a taste for "Time Regained," while "Apocalypse Now" is of course based on "Hearts of Darkness."

 

It is in fact much easier to make a great film of a mediocre novel than a great film of a truly great novel. All of Kubrick's 11 movies were based on novels. It is perhaps not surprising that the one truly great novel "Lolita" is generally not viewed as his greatest films. By contrast, "The Shining" is the best adaptation of a Stephen King novel/story because Kubrick didn't let King's interpretations get in the way.

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I completely agree with you about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. A great book AND a great film.

 

I had a friend who always said to watch the movie first, and then read the book, because if you like the film, you'll usually like the book, too. And it often people are disappointed in film adaptations of books they like.

 

Two excellent Merchant-Ivory films are A ROOM WITH A VIEW and HOWARDS END. Both based on novels by E.M. Forster.

 

Sandy K

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