Books and Movies

I love movies, I love books, and I love the word “love” apparently, because I’ve used it about a hundred times throughout this post. Sorry about that.

Even though I usually don’t like to, I recently read two books after seeing and loving the movies they were based on. As everyone knows, movies based on books are never as good as the books and always leave out someone’s favorite part, or character, or something, making the movie disappointing and bad. Despite knowing this, I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.

Most recently I read P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, which I mentioned before that I saw last December, and which struck me so hard, I really have no idea why this movie resonated with me the way it did. Maybe it was the heart wrenching love story, maybe it was the handsome men with Irish brogues who played guitars. Either way I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie and when I came across the book at the store, I bought it right away.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes was a similar story. I saw the movie and loved it. I borrowed it from Netflix and watched it four times before I returned it. I just loved the story so much. I loved the scenery and the characters, the food, the house. I loved it all. I saw that my sister had the book on her shelf and I decided that if I love the movie that much, I ought to love the book just as much.

Both book-movie comparisons are similar for me. They were great movies, they were great books, but the movies were so peripherally based on the books, they were almost completely different stories.

In Under the Tuscan Sun, the basic premise of the movie, Frances’ painful divorce and trip to Italy to take her mind off things, is completely made up by the screenwriters. But still, the major parts of the story make up the structure of the movie and so I can love them each individually and not even bother trying to compare them.

In P.S. I Love You, the movie seems to have taken the main points as well, the love story, the friends, the Daniel character, the letters from Gerry, but everything else was changed. The setting of the movie is in the US, not Ireland. Holly was sort of whiny and unlikable at first in the movie, but not in the book. Her relationship with her family, which weighed heavily in the book, was discarded for more focus on her friendship with Daniel in the movie. I loved both the book and the movie, as different as they were, but it made me wonder if I hadn’t seen the movie first, would I have love the book as much?

And then, in a completely different category of book-movie comparisons is Suburban Girl and its evil, soulless theft of material from one of my favorite stories, A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks. I always like to say that A Girl’s Guide is my favorite book I never read. I really haven’t ever “read” it in the literal sense, but I have the audio book and I have listened to is so many times that I had to buy another copy because I wore the first one out. I love Jane and her stories of growing up and finding her way through the minefields of love. Her dry sense of humor and smart storytelling make it a favorite story to listen to anytime I’m in the car. When I saw a commercial for the DVD Suburban Girl, based on A Girl’s Guide, I was so hopeful. Despite the fact that Sarah Michelle Geller plays Jane and Alec Baldwin plays Archie, I gave it a chance and borrowed it from Netflix. Oh, what a bad idea. Maybe it’s just me, I know the story so well because I’ve listened to it so many times, I could probably quote from it, but still, what a bad, bad movie. And what a mess they made of the story. One of the things that annoyed me the most was the random changes of unnecessary things. What did they have to change Jane’s last name? And why is her boyfriend named “Jed” instead of “Jamie”? There’s one scene where Jane is complaining to Archie about a book she has to edit, and in the book she says “he’s trying to be the next Faulkner”. In the movie he’s “trying to be the next Joyce”. WHY?? Why the changes? It’s bad enough they chopped up the story, gave Jane a Blackberry, and cast Alec Baldwin as Archie. Did they really have to make all those random changes, too? It was awful. I have to confess I actually didn’t finish watching it, that’s how bad it was. It was tarnishing my memory of the book. What a shame.

To wash the residue of that horrible movie from my brain, last night I watched Hot Fuzz. I don’t care if they ever publish a book on that movie, I won’t read it. The movie was awesome on its own. The perfect counter to the evil waste of DVD shelf space, Suburban Girl. I highly recommend it.

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