This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is best/worst movie adaptations. I am in a positive place right now so I’ve chosen some of my favorites. Keep in mind, though, that this list is not in any way exhaustive since so many awesome movies started as books/stories. There are just too many adaptations to choose from, so I apologize to all the great movies I had to leave off.
For example, did you know Die Hard is based on a book? I didn’t either! Not until I went through this list, very nicely posted to twitter by Crystal (@librarygrl2). So, yes, lots and lots of movies based on books. For today, I have only included the movies whose source text I have actually read. Otherwise, how would I know if it’s a good adaptation or not???
For me, a good adaptation doesn’t have to be completely faithful to the book’s plot. It does need to maintain the spirit or essence of the book, though. Movies do different things than books, so I never expect a movie to be exactly like a book. I expect a movie to be good in its own right and for me to see how the source text influenced the adaptation. Or I just expect the movie to be amazing, and I don’t really care what the book does.
1. Holes (Holes by Louis Sachar) – I actually just listened to this on audiobook for the first time (I’ve read the book before) and the movie adaptation is pretty much flawless. My only complaint is probably that Patricia Arquette is older than I pictured Kate Barlow, but the rest of the casting and the story are spot on. It probably helps that Sachar wrote the screenplay.
True story: If you see the movie, every time you read the book, you’ll get the theme song stuck in your head.
2. Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton) – The book has more science and more scary dinosaurs, but, well, you’ve seen the movie and you know it’s amazing. Right? I can’t remember which is scarier since it has been so long since I read the book, but the book is a fast-paced read and I would never, ever trust a velociraptor around door handles.
3. Mean Girls (Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman) – Obvs, the movie is a comedy and the book is a pretty serious non-fiction work, but the message is the same: middle to upper middle class/rich white girls are crazy when it comes to cliques and maintaining power.
4. The First Wives Club (The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith) – The book is a lot more serious and a lot less fun than the awesome, awesome movie that is currently streaming on Netflix. [That’s my way of telling you to watch it if you haven’t already.] Did I mention the movie is awesome? My daughter and I have watched it more than once. Love Goldie Hawn, love Bette Midler, love Diane Keaton. Love, love, love.
5. The Godfather (The Godfather by Mario Puzo) – The movie takes all the good parts of the book and leaves out all of the stuff no one cares about. I mean, does it really matter that the bridesmaid Sonny has sex with in the beginning of the movie has an extra large vagina and winds up in Las Vegas with Fredo? Of course not. (Also, yes, that’s mostly what I remember from the book.) The movie is long, yes, but, wow, I love it. Also, everything good about the book that’s not in the movie shows up in The Godfather II (like Don Corleone’s backstory). And, you know, how Fredo winds up in Vegas.
6. Aquamarine (Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman) – I don’t remember that much about the book except mermaid in the pool, honestly. The movie is so, so adorable, though. And! It holds up to multiple viewings. [It was a favorite of my daughter’s when she was little.] I love the focus on female friendship, and it also features a really fun crush.
7. About a Boy (About a Boy by Nick Hornby) – Both are excellent, but only one features Hugh Grant and “Shake It Fast” by Mystikal. I’m just saying.
8. Freaky Friday (Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers) – I have actually seen all three movie versions [two theatrical and one made-for-TV]. The Jodie Foster version is A+ for the awesome 1970s fun, and the Lindsay Lohan version is an A+ twenty-first century update. We don’t speak of the TV version. Love the book, love the two released in theaters.
9. The Wizard of Oz (The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum) – The book and the movie have so little in common Read the book if you want lots of beheadings and silver shoes and to learn about Midwestern hospitality in the 1900s. Watch the movie to see why it’s one of my childhood favorites. I can quote the whole movie is what I’m saying. And I still love the songs.
10. Bride and Prejudice (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) – I am not that big a fan of the book [I know, I know], but holy crap, it’s a Bollywood version with lots of color and fun songs and Sayid from Lost dancing and singing. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
He’s the Indian MC Hammer! (He’s also Bingley’s equivalent.) I love it. This is another one I have seen multiple times because my daughter loves it. We actually need to own this movie. Also, I love how it translates all the main points of the book into a transcontinental romance. So fun and so great.
BONUS: Top 5 Movies Based on Books I Haven’t Read
Because I just couldn’t help myself.
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf) – This movie is so well-paced and well-plotted. There are no throwaway gags or anything. Also: it’s FUNNY. Plus: JESSICA RABBIT.
2. Friday Night Lights (Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger) – Yes, I know there’s a TV show. But have you seen the movie? Because it is full of pretty, pretty boys and a final game that I watched like it was a real football game. And I don’t even care that much about football! But I was just that invested in the boys and their futures.
Also, if you love Tami Taylor (which I know you do), Connie Britton plays the Coach’s wife in the movie as well.
3. Imitation of Life  (Imitation of Life by Fannie Hurst) – My great-aunt prefers the 1939 version because it focuses more on how the white woman’s wealth is created by her black cook. This version, however, is the one I’m most familiar with and the one that makes me cry great big tears of sadness. Annie’s daughter tries to pass for white and breaks her mother’s heart 100 million times. Also, Sandra Dee and Lana Turner plus a Mahalia Jackson cameo. Plus also, Lora thinks she and Annie are friends, but, yeah, they’re so not because of race and class barriers. So, you know, amazingness.
4. Freedom Writers (The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell) – I did not have any hopes of liking this movie because I hate movies about Great White Saviors Who Save the Poor Minorities from Themselves. However! The movie is more about the kids and how telling their stories changes their lives. Which means I wound up LOVING it. Writing love + awesome teacher = <3.
5. Clueless (Emma by Jane Austen) – Please. As if any movie list of mine would be complete without one of the greatest movies of all time. This is also streaming on Netflix, so if you haven’t seen it, make it your business to watch it.