One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they didn’t like a movie because “they didn’t follow the book.” Okay, I understand the frustration of feeling like you’ve been jipped out of seeing your beloved characters’ lives lived out accurately on the big screen (*cough*Princess Diaries 2*cough*), but altogether, let’s be honest: comparing books to movies is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re two completely different art forms: what makes a good book is not what makes a good movie. And if you’re going to get hung up on all the little details, then just don’t even bother.
I have a friend who swears she can’t even bear to watch the Harry Potter movies because of the screaming inaccuracies, i.e. Harry standing up on his broom when rescuing Neville’s Remembrall. “That did not happen in the book,” she swears. I’ll admit, there are times that the differences bother me, too (like when Harry stood there and watched Dumbledore die–he was under the body-bind curse in the book, which does seem like a big discrepancy). But I remind myself that the decision was likely made mindfully and with a greater purpose in mind–such as progressing the storyline more quickly, saving the HP movies from being 17 hours each, or for cinematic effect. For the most part, I highly enjoy seeing film adaptations of books I read and loved. And, overall, I don’t let those thoughts ruin the experience for me. Water for Elephants and The Help are both excellent examples of 2011 movies adapted from two of my favorite novels.
Recently, I discovered a new benefit for seeing a movie after reading a book. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo during summer 2011, and was enraptured with the mystery aspect of the novel, but bored with the business and legal matters that book-ended (pardon the pun) the excitement. I couldn’t (and didn’t care to) follow the Wennerstrom affair, and ended up skimming through the last 100 pages of the novel. Fans who had rushed out to buy the second novel after completing the first seemed shocked that I didn’t feel the same sense of devotion to the series. But as far as I was concerned, I had no interest in reading The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Then, a few weeks ago, B and I decided to see the (American) Dragon Tattoo movie adaptation. Seeing the “boring parts” compressed down to about 15-20 minutes, I was able to better understand the connection to the story. By not wading through page after page of storyline that I had no interest in, I connected more to the characters. After seeing the movie, I finally felt compelled to read more about Lisbeth and Mikael. I just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire last week, and while I won’t be putting it on my Top 10 list, I am glad I read it and plan to read Hornet’s Nest soon.
Another pleasant surprise was One for the Money, the movie version of the first book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. As a recent fan (I read the first novel on our honeymoon in June and have since finished #2, #3, and #4), I was a little concerned with the filmmakers’ choice to cast Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. I still think she’s just too beautiful to play Plum, who I envisioned as a plain-Jane, Heigl delivered and pulled it off well. My mom, though, didn’t feel that the actor playing Joe Morelli was quite dreamy enough. Either way, I hope to see more movies in this series. If they make ’em, I’ll watch ’em.