Anything a Movie Can Do, a Book Can Do Better
There are very few film adaptations of books that I think hold a candle to the original. As y'all know, I've written a book and have been shamelessly plugging it since the beginning of time. What you might not know is that I'm attempting to adapt it into a screenplay. What this has entailed has been me staring at my book and a Word document for hours without accomplishing anything and then watching a movie on Netflix that was adapted from a book as a means of learning about the craft.
So, in the name of
procrastination research, I'm going to talk to you about the only book adaptation I truly love and what may be the only movie that's better than the book.
Holes is a perfect movie. That scene where Sigourny Weaver paints her nails with nail polish infused with deadly venom and then slaps that guy is incredible. But the greatest thing about Holes is the Kissin' Kate Barlow and Sam "I Can Fix That" Dreamboat love story. (Dreamboat...get it? He's got a boat and he's a total dream.) No matter how much I try, I will never write a love story as beautiful as their's. Something about love stories where one of the characters has been saying "I love you" since the beginning but disguised as another phrase just makes me believe in love. I'm talking "I can fix that" or the Princess Bride's "As you wish." It's so stupidly cute.
Aside from the perfection that is the love story, it's a good adaptation. They weighted the flashbacks well and the story of Holes is just so clever and interesting. I rewatched it recently since it's back on Netflix and I can find no flaws. It's just a good movie. Simple as that.
You wanna know what's a great movie, but one of the worst books I've ever read? Up in the Air. If you recall, I love Anna Kendrick, so I first watched the movie because I'm trying to watch every movie in her filmography. Since I know you're invested in that quest, just know that I'm caught up and have seen everything she's done. Even Elsewhere. Yeah, bet y'all haven't even heard of that one.
Anyway, I liked Up in the Air mostly because of George Clooney's fascinating job. If you haven't seen it, he works for a company that other companies can hire to fire their own employees. He flies around the country firing people for a living. Anna Kendrick is a recent hire straight out of college who has an idea to revolutionize George's job; Skype. Instead of wasting money flying people like George all over the country, they can fire people remotely through Skype. George and Anna then form an unlikely pair because George doesn't believe she understands that this job is not just about efficiency and there's a human aspect to it that can't occur through a computer screen, so he takes her up in the air, so to speak.
It's an interesting look at the American industry during the recession. They go to offices that are stripped almost entirely bare and meet people who just got the bad end of the stick. What makes the movie so interesting is that it's all centered on the human condition and this man whose job is to fire people.
The book is utter trash. Whoever adapted it should've gotten an Oscar because sifting through that pile of trash to write the screenplay must've taken ages. In the book, George's character has that same job, but it's barely mentioned in passing. Instead of ruminating on the human condition and the need for connection like the movie does, the reader has to sit through an ungodly number of pages of this boring narrator who feels alone in life because he is so utterly fascinating and incredible that no one could possibly understand him. Obviously he can't find a woman because what woman could possibly understand the depths of his soul?! It's like that claymation movie Anomalisa that was heralded as the most human movie of the year. I saw it with my friend Melanie and it was one of the worst experiences of our lives. But, if you ever wanted to see a claymation penis and watch two clay people have sex, this movie's right up your alley.
Both of them have straight male leads who have isolated themselves because of their inflated egos and are now lonely because, shockingly, you feel lonely when you ISOLATE YOURSELF FROM EVERYONE YOU KNOW. Obviously, you're not going to like everyone you meet and not everyone's going to change your life, but these dudes were just so far in their own egotistical minds that they never saw the problem was their own. And they both attempt to connect with women who they hope will be the ones to save them from their lives of angsty, isolated turmoil, but alas, the women cannot and the men are left to suffer in their misguided masculinity.
Listen I don't like The L Word (I know, just give me the worst lesbian award) and I certainly don't like Jenny, but this is one of my favorite quotes about this phenomenon:
"It's not my job to make you a better man and I don't give a shit if I've made you a better man. It's not a fucking woman's job to be consumed and invaded and spat out so that some fucking man can evolve."
So, if you liked Up in the Air, do yourself a favor and never read the book.
So that's all I got. I'm gonna go back to procrastinating even further on this screenplay writing exercise. 'Till next time.