Books-to-Movies: Hit or Miss?

Trisha at eclectic / eccentric has a really fun post, Adaptations Lists and Giveaways, where she’s listed 5 books that she wishes were movies, and 5 books that she wishes never were.  I have to agree with her on Eragon, one of the worst travesties done to a book EVER, but not on a few of the others.  I enjoyed reading hers so much, I wanted to play to 🙂  So here’s my 5 and 5.

FIVE books that I’d trade a body part to be movies:

  1. Nation by Terry Pratchett ~ It was fantastic, funny, had a great message, and it just lent itself to visualization.  AND it’d have gorgeous South Pacific scenery that would be breath-taking on a big screen.  I think that’d be worth a spleen, at least… I mean, what does that thing do, anyway?
  2. The Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich ~ I’d trade a kidney for a TV series of this.  Grandma Mazur, in my living room, every week.  Oh, that would almost make up for the end of LOST!
  3. Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng ~ It’d be worth a lung lobe just to watch a gummy Miss Adderstone use her false teeth like castanets.  And I think they could do a lot of fun stuff visually with the hypnotism.  Oh, any movie can be improved by throwing a pug dog in the story 🙂
  4. Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham ~ Goblins.  SNOT. and it’s all underground.  It’d be a good cult classic.  Ok, so I LOVE movies like A Gnome Named Gnorm… and am apparently alone in that given it’s 4 out of 10 stars rating, Super Mario Bros, and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and I think this one could be a cool movie.
  5. Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper ~  Okay, I’d trade a cornea for this one.  El Mochito, the Daredevil, the blind Wonder Cat who defends his mom from the burglar, and whose heart is so big that he enraptures everyone who ever meets him… well, except for Lawrence.  He was too smitten with Vashti.  It’d be way better than that Marley & Me movie, and BEST OF ALL, the cat would still be alive at the end.  Gawd, I hated the end of Marley.  I don’t want to think about my pets dying.  I know it’ll happen, but don’t put it in my “feel-good” movie.  Marley & Me was like being a manic/depressive for 110 minutes… and I still gave it 5 stars at Netflix. 

There should be a special place in HELL for the people who made thes FIVE books into movies:

  1. The Inheritance Cycle (or the movie Eragon) by Christopher Paolini, obviously.  A place in Hell where they’re forced to sit in front of a movie screen and endure inane details of a random person’s life, but NEVER get anything good or inspiring or accurate.  Every good part was cut from the books and then they watered down the surface story, left even more out, and called it a movie.  First off, ERAGON is the name of ONE book, and yet they made the whole book series in this one movie.  Nasuada is one of my favorite characters, and she’s an important character, but she’s no where in the movie.  What about Eragon’s training with the Elves?  and where’s Solombum, the were-cat?  Grr… horrible rendering.
  2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards ~ That movie sucked so bad, I actually dropped my rating on the book after watching it.  The book was complex and had depth, but the movie was just weak.  Whoever made THAT drivel should be stripped of their sense of smell, have their taste buds seared off, be stricken color-blind and then spend eternity seated at a table loaded with all their favorite foods.
  3. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King ~ You know, the sad thing about this one is, SK himself approved the script.  The book itself has 2 novella stories to it, one centered around playing Hearts at college, and the second where the guy’s an alien hiding out and other aliens come looking for him.   But the movie has NONE of the Hearts to it, and what’s left of the Atlantis part is stripped of all the magic that made me love it.  In the end, it’s just another lousy Stephen King book-to-movie.
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini ~ Honestly, it’s not the movie makers fault that it was a bad book-to-movie.  There was NO WAY for them to translate all that goes on inside the narrator’s head, the nuances of the people, and the sense of fear/doom/loss/inadequacy that made up this book.  It wasn’t JUST about him not standing up for his friend and allowing him to be hurt, but it’s about how that one moment was the still point that his whole life and identity grew out of.  I think it’s fair to give the movie people a pardon on this one.
  5. The Hours by Michael Cunningham ~ Okay, I’ve never read the book, so I can’t say whether they did a bad job of making the movie, but here is what I can say:  After watching that movie, I would NEVER read the book.  What’s more, I don’t want to go near a Virgina Woolfe book because of it.  It gave me the impression that her books are very depressing and I’d want to kill myself after reading it.  I might’ve read one of her books before that, I think I even have Mrs. Dalloway somewhere, but every time I think about her books, I think about drowning myself in the bathtub and it’s all because of that movie.

A couple books being made into movies that I’m reserving space on my WORST movie adaptations EVER mental list are:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry ~ right now, it’s set to come out 2011, but that’ll probably get pushed back.  It’s suppose to be done by the director who did the last few Harry Potter movies, so they’ve had to wait for those to wrap up. I just can’t see how this book could work as a movie for the same reasons The Kite Runner was a miss.  There’s so much going on mentally, how can they show that on the screen?
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy ~ Viggo Mortensen as the man… big, big plus.  It could really be another Mad Max or Blade Runner and be a raging success, but it could just as easily tank hard.  It’s another one of those mental books, though the scenery could be amazing.  They HAVE to have the cellar scene in it, though, or it’ll be a deal breaker.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ~ The book was perfection.  A movie will screw it up.  There’s NO WAY it can be done.

Oh, and by the way… Don’t forget to Trisha’s having a contest for this:

Giveaway:

If you make a post about this topic and leave a link in the comments section, I will 1) add you to the list below and 2) enter you into a giveaway for one of the following books:

1.  It’s Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask
2.  No Touch Monkey by Ayun Halliday
3.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
4.  The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The contest closes at midnight January 17.

So what books do you think would be a hit or were a miss?

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Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng

Title:  Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Author:  Georgia Byng

Paperback:  373 pages

ISBN:  0439567300

Orphan Molly Moon hates living in Hardwick House.  For starters, the orphanage is run by hairy-faced Miss Adderstone, who makes Molly clean the toilets with her toothbrush.  Mean Hazel Hackersly torments her, and to make matters worse, Molly’s best friend Rocky has just been adopted and is moving to New York City!

But when Molly stumbles upon a mysterious old book on hypnotism, her world is suddenly turned upside down.  With a dazzling flash of her bright green eyes, she discovers that she has the amazing power to make people do things — crazy things.  There’s nothing holding Molly back now, and what better place to begin her adventures than in spectacular New York City as a Broadway superstar?

What Molly doesn’t know is that a sinister stranger is following her with dastardly plans of his own.

-from the first page of Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng

Okay, this was NOT the best book to pick right after reading The Glass Castle, a book about real child abuse and neglect.  I just couldn’t help thinking about the Walls children, and whether they would have appreciated life at Hardwick, or whether Molly would have preferred being a Walls.  Hard to say, both books had hard living for children as a central theme.  Whereas the Walls experience was an inescapable reality, Molly’s is an average child’s fantasy.  “Oh, how I wish I could get back at Mom for making me eat lima beans.  She knows I hate them, that’s why she gives it to me!”  The idea of being able to get revenge for being served vegetables they hate and being force-marched to bed at 9 o’clock makes Molly Moon a fun and silly read for the 8-12 crowd.

I also made the mistake of reading it by myself.  It was actually a restart.  Mags and I had started reading it last spring and had to set it aside when we were 1/3 the way through while she went to visit her dad.  We never picked it back up, and I figured it’d be a quick book to help me hit my 75-book goal (this one makes number 68, only 7 to go 😀 )  I remember we’d laughed and laughed until tears came into our eyes and my throat was hoarse from doing the voices and cackling so much.  Without her, however, I only chuckled a couple times and found myself wishing I was sharing it with her.  Children lend their magic to some books, a magic we adults seem to have lost.

I do plan on re-reading it with Mags, all the way through.  But as it stands now, I give Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng 3 out of 5.  I read someone’s review that said how Molly was an unlikeable character, but I disagree with that.  Molly is a fairly blank character, with as little of her own personality and quirks as could be gotten away with.  This isn’t a bad thing, in this case, because what she provides is a template for kids to put themselves in her shoes.  She’s not blank as in “underdeveloped”, rather like a costume has nothing inside.  Which makes me wonder what the reviewer didn’t like about her… hmm…

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

Title: Gooney Bird Greene
Author: Lois Lowry
Pages: 88
Publisher: Yearling (Random House Children’s Books)
Publish Date: 2002
ISBN: 0440419603

Gooney Bird Greene -that’s Greene with a silent ‘e’ at the end- arrived at Watertower Elementary and in Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade class in October… the class would never be the same. She shows up wearing pajamas and cowboy boots, her red hair in pigtails, a lunch box and dictionary in her hands. She asks for a desk in the middle of the room because she likes to be in the middle of all the action. As the class begins studying how to write a story, the whole class decides they want to hear Gooney Bird’s story.

Gooney Bird adjusted the pink ballet tutu she was wearing over a pair of green stretch pants. Her T-shirt was decorated with polka dots. Her red hair was pulled into two pigtails and held there with blue scrunchies… She felt her earlobes, which were small and pink and empty.

“I should have worn the dangling diamond earrings that I got from the prince,” she told the class. “Maybe I’ll wear them next week.”

“Diamond earrings? Prince?” Mrs. Pidgeon asked.

“Well, actually, the prince didn’t give me the earrings. I got them at the palace,” Gooney Bird explained.

“Why were you at the palace?”

“Well, first I was in jail, and then -” Gooney Bird interrupted herself. “It’s a long story.”

Gooney Bird entrances the whole class, including their teacher, with her stories about how she came from China on a flying carpet, or how her beloved cat, Catman, was consumed by a cow, or why she was late to school because she was directing an orchestra. With every story, Gooney Bird reminds her audience that she only tells absolutely true stories.  And she does.

What brought me to Gooney Bird Greene is the fact Maggie and I have read the entire Junie B. series, and we’ve been looking for a replacement series. Gooney Bird does work great for that, and she’s quite creative, as well. Both characters are funny, extroverts who are often the center of attention. Both characters are rather unique individuals, and express themselves very well. The differences, though, are that Parks has developed Junie B’s character a lot more, as she has written over 30 Junie B books to Lowry’s three Gooney Bird books.

Maggie’s review is: Gooney Bird Greene is a good, funny and cute book. Her favorite things about it is Gooney Bird is funny and she likes it when Gooney Bird bosses the teacher around. The thing she didn’t like about it is when Gooney Bird lost her cat… that was sad… but it was funny that Catman’s tail got cut off by the lawn mower.

Back to me, now… to clarify the “bossing the teacher”, Gooney Bird isn’t mean and hateful with it, she says things like “look up China on the map”, or when the class erupts in questions saying, “Mrs. Pidgeon, do you want to deal with this?”. Even Mrs. Pidgeon gets so caught up in the stories that she interrupts, then apologizes. It’s this kind of polite role-reversal that is often what makes a favorite children’s book. Not only is there the “bossing” the teacher, but also directing the adults of the orchestra, and helping a neighbor find his dog. Gooney Bird takes the role of rescuer for the grown-ups.

Honestly, I can’t really find any negatives about this book, other than there are only three books, which means it’s not long before we’re hunting a new series very soon. We’ve read a couple Lucy Rose books, but she’s just not quite the same. We’ve just started Amber Brown Goes Fourth, and it’s promising, but I don’t know how many there are. I’ve also got an Anastasia Krupnik book, and a couple Molly Moons. SO, if you have any suggestions for Maggie’s dilemma, let us know!