Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Now a Major Motion Picture

My daughter has a T-shirt that reads: Movies - Ruining the Book Since 1920.

She gets it. I should amend that. She gets it the same way I get it.

Because every time I hear about a beloved book being turned into a movie I get excited. I am old enough to know better. Once bitten, twice shy - that's the way it's supposed to go, isn't it? But I still get excited every. single. time.

Even when it turns out well, the movie still just serves as a nice supplement to the book. My daughter is reading The Outsiders for school right now. I know she'll love the movie, but I am so grateful that she'll be seeing it only AFTER having read the book. Movies are a nice little 2 hour visit with the stories we love. Kind of like looking through a photo album is a nice little way to revisit a favorite time. It's a nice reminder. But it's not the real thing.

I can remember a time when casting Interview With the Vampire was a game played by many. I played it with strangers in bars, once a mutual love of the book was established. Everyone had their picks. NO-one picked Tom Cruise. It seemed like such a ridiculous choice. And then it went ahead and worked. Who'da thunk?

More recently I've heard people in certain circles discussing casting choices for Water for Elephants in a similar manner. I'm staying out of it. (Unless someone wants to play! Then I'm totally in!)

A few years ago I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter and really enjoyed it. I thought it would make a great movie and was pleased when I heard it was in production. Then I found out it was going to be a made for TV movie. Wellllll that's ok, I reasoned, Brian's Song was a made for TV movie... Then I heard it was going to be a Lifetime made for TV movie. My optimism wavered a little at that point. But I watched it anyway. Much to my chagrin. A couple hours of my life I'll never get back. What a pile of sentimental drivel. How did they take such a lovely book and turn it into - that? It was dreadful.

My daughter and I recently had the same experience with The Tale of Despereaux. She loved the book. I loved the book. We marked the calendar for the release date. We watched the trailers. The characters looked great. We could. not. wait. My husband and my other daughter had not read the book. We both encouraged them to. "It's great! You'll love it!" The movie came out before they had a chance. The movie was - awful. We were so disappointed. Leaving the theater the two who had not read the book were looking at us like, "Really? You loved THAT? REALLY?" Well, no, as a matter of fact, we didn't. Despite our telling them that it was almost nothing like the book, neither of them will be reading that any time soon, guarantee.

It shouldn't matter - but it does. It somehow cheapened it.

Sometimes the movie is a beautiful complement to the book. The Kite Runner is an excellent recent example of this, as is The Namesake. Neither was terribly successful, as far as movies go. For what that's worth.

Fight Club amazed me. I couldn't imagine how they were going to make that one into a movie, but they did and it worked BIG time and it accomplished what I always HOPE will be accomplished by this. Folks who aren't big on reading see the movie - interest is piqued - they pick up the book - they look for more by the same author - it's a beautiful cycle, when it works. Movies - GOOD movies - can bring a whole new crowd of people to reading. (more on my thoughts on Chuck Palahniuk's books to movies here.)

A much better example of this is the Harry Potter series. Sure, the first book was wildly popular before the first movie. But AFTER the movie? Forget about it. Kids were READING! Kids were standing in line at midnight for the next installment! Kids and a LOT of grown-ups (jumps up and down, raises hand, "oooh-oooh's" like Arnold Horschack) - because a good read is a good read. (And yes, our calendar is indeed marked for July 17. Our local theater already has it on the marquee. Do you think it's too early to inquire about tickets?)

Do you have a book to movie story? One you loved? One that broke your heart? One you're eagerly anticipating?


Housewife Savant said...

Your posts always rock. There are so many things you want to hear from me (I know, Tammy. Calm down.)
First off; I've always longed to tell you that of all your blogging pals I am the BIGGEST Spinal Tap fan of all.
Mr. and I quote it often. We love other projects too. RICH humor.
You've got to Get It to Get It. Pity the fools who don't.
Your night with the crew sounds like tremendous fun.

Reading THIS post affirms our sisterhood.
I am just now reading "Interview..." Following our storm I read Harry Potter 6 & 7 and LOVED them. Hated Despereaux, but you can forgive me for that, right?
(Cuz on a scale of 1-10 our friendship's an 11.)

Housewife Savant said...

OH! And your blog is lurvely!!

Gibby said...

I know, there is so much I want to say here, too...

First, I love that t-shirt. I must have one.

Second, there's no way they can do justice to Water for Elephants.

3rd: I, too, watched The Memory Keeper's Daughter. WHAT was I thinking? I KNEW it would be bad. It was on Lifetime, for crying out loud! I hated the lady who played the wife, she was so not how she was portrayed in the book. I hated it.

4th: The Tale of Despereaux: I agree, but luckily my daughter and I knew that it was much different from the book. I think Poonch views the movie and the book as two completely different stories, which I find interesting.

I'll finish with Kite Runner, which is one of my all-time fave books. I have not seen the movie on purpose, because I love the book so much. I am so worried the movie will wreck it for me. What do you think, is it worth the watch?

Oh wait, one more thing: I heard that The Time Traveler's Wife is coming out soon. I absolutely loved this book and I am not sure how they are going to pull this one off. Not sure if I will ever find out.

Great post!

P.S. Oh, The Outsiders! Brings back so many memories. And even if the movie didn't live up to the book, at least there were some hotties in it. Well, hotties back in my day, not so sure what your daughter will think about that!

Gibby said...

OMG, sorry that comment was so long!

Rosa said...

Lord of the Rings. Hands down. I own 4 separate sets of both The Hobbit and the entire trilogy. (One set is leather bound and the pages are gold leaf. Gorgeous.) Yes, I'm an admitted LOTR geek. I was downright frightened to see the first movie. I thought, this can either suck or really kick butt. As you're aware, Tam, I was NOT disappointed. Peter Jackson did an unbelievable job of translating Tolkien's genius to the big screen. Evidenced by the fact that I knew much of the dialogue before the characters said the lines. See, I told you--GEEK!

Tammy Howard said...

Rosa commented on my frakkin' blog! Next thing you know you'll be following me - then clicking through on my peeps - oooooooh Rosa, welcome to the dark side!!! I just had to ask the right question, I see...now, what has it got in it's pockets?

MiMi said...

Books!! Now you're speakin' my language...I was so disappointed by The Memory Keeper's Daughter. When you read a book, you get so much history, you can see different sides of a coin. With movies, sometimes the characters are so one dimensional you hate someone you were supposed to like! If I haven't read a book, and the movie comes out, I always wait until I read the book first.
Maybe I need to go investigate your blog more, did you do any posts about Twilight? What did you think about that book to film series?
Macey : )
PS One of these days I'm gonna get the gumption to do a book post and then I'm linking back to you, because this is one awesome post!

MiMi said...

Oh yeah! And I forgot, I really liked the book called Me and Emma, I wish they would make one of that. And My Sister's Keeper is coming out and I wonder how that will be...Cameron Diaz as the mom puts me off right in the beginning, because I would never have picked her.

Edwina said...

The Kite Runner makes me cry like a newborn every time I see it. And you're right. The movie isn't as good as the book, but it's still great...

Tammy Howard said...

MiMi - Cameron Diaz? Really? Welllll - we were all wrong about Tom Cruise, so it's not impossible, but...

Gibby said...

I knew My Sister's Keeper was coming out, but I didn't know about Cameron Diaz, either. I stayed up til 3AM one night because I couldn't put that book down, then I sobbed like a baby.

Cameron Diaz? Hhhhmmmmm...

Rosa said...

I'm pleased to say that my kids now walk around saying that exact phrase, Tam. Even though my son is only 11, he now wants to read the books b/c he loved the movies. The violence, the battles, the gore--it lured him in. Being the voracious reader he is (yay!) it won't be long. **sniff, sniff** I'm so proud.

MaryRC said...

Im so glad you found me, it looks as if we have much in common, i loved your mother's day post, i cant wait to see what you have to say about Spinal Tap, (i think the pod is my favorite part)i once had a haircut (less than 6 years ago) that looked just like nigels.. oh yeah and not in the 80s baby, it was baaaad.

your mother sounds much like mine, but your a lovely umbrella stand, uh... i mean daughter..

thanks for feeding me too... you know i have SUCH issues with google, im glad its not just me and my mac.

MaryRC said...

Oh oh oh I have one! ERAGON! "Hand me the nuce... I mean popcorn.." what a freakin butcher job..

I was convinced that Chris O Donnell should play Lestat, he is still my Lestat, but the Chris O Donnell in Three Musketeers, oooh so lestat yummy!

Water for Elephants, hmmm leading man... I'll play.. ooh Orlando Bloom, Girl Zoey whats her name... Ring Master... Oh the bad guy from a Knights Tale..

I may need to think this one out a bit more. I have to recall the book.

Ever read 1000 White women? My bookclub book this month.

Tammy Howard said...

1000 White Women is "on my list" as it has been highly recommended by several folks.

Orlando Bloom - yummy - age appropriate (for the movie, not for me, dammit)- I reckon I could see that... I'm thinking - ack - name escapes me - the chick from White Oleander maybe...

Sting was my Lestat. :-)

Anita said...

I don't find many well made books into movies. The Namesake was done very well. I haven't read or seen the Kite Runner.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was very good, both ways.
Historically speaking, To Kill a Mockingbird was a good film.

Alex the Girl said...

I had to stop reading the books before watching the movies. It drives me freakin insane. Not only that, my kids what to knock me out due to my insessant (did I spell that right?) muttering throughout the show, "that wasn't in the book. No..that wasn't either...I wonder why they didn't show Sir. Nicholas's death day party? That part was awesome." (to this day I still grudge over that one). Actually, I love it when a movie inspires me to run out and buy the book. (and sorry, I read the published vampire books before interview was made into a movie and it pissed me off that they had Lestat flying before Queen of the Damned =P). I always thought that Tim Curry with his big big big teethy smile would have made a better Proff. Lockhart. I saw Dead Poet's Society three times in a row and then ran off to buy the book. I cried all four times. Fried Green Tomatoes wasn't a book I'd touch until that is I read the book. TO WANDA THE AVENGER. Loved both of them, and I am glad I saw the movie before I read the book because it would have ticked me off. I loved the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice. I think they did the novel justice.

Girl, please. I could go on forever and ever.

Love this post.

Alex the Girl said...

Oooo, and Sting was my Lestat too.

Pam said...

First, I LOVE that t-shirt. I'm going to google it and get myself one ASAP.

I agree that in most cases the movie is never is a good as the book. I always read the book first (unless it's something I wouldn't normally read anyway - The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries).

I also agree that The Namesake and The Kite Runner were excellent movies and didn't detract from the book at all. I didn't realize Water for Elephants was being made into a movie. Not sure I'll see it. It would be better if they cast totally unknown actors in the main roles. Then I wouldn't have all my "impressions" of some famous actor clouding my view of the characters.

I still remember so clearly the first time I realized that movies are not true to the book. The summer between 8th and 9th grades I read Gone with the Wind. Soon after it was on TV and I couldn't wait to watch it. I was outraged that whole sections of the book were left out of the movie. I've been skeptical of movies made from books ever since. That being said, I will admit that Gone with the Wind is one of my all time favorite movies.

Tammy Howard said...

Actually, Pam, a click on the link SHOULD take you to the shirt - it's Threadless (www.threadless.com) They have some great stuff - they provide a lot of my SAHM wardrobe! And they have amazing sales periodically (think $5 Tees...)