Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about movies here, my friends.
You know, the ones that are based on our favorite books. The ones that so often disappoint.
If your family is more movie buff than bookworm, let me tell you the reasons to change your ways. I’m an expert, because I am both. So I have to know a little something, right?
I’m going to give you the rundown of family films I could have done without and films I loved even if they were slightly different from the books. And always, always, I’m going to tell you to read the book anyway.
3 books that were way better than movies
The Hunger Games
I have to start with this one, because of all the books I have loved, these films were the most disappointing.
What I loved about the books:
Katniss was a very real and still likeable character who had some moral dilemmas to solve and solved them as best she could.
The relationships between Katniss and the people of her District were distinct and strong. Even when you thought you knew where she stood, the strength of the community would surprise you.
Although the people in this post-apocalyptic society went along with the government for the sake of their health and safety, they were just waiting for a leader to stir them up. Then things got serious. And it kicked butt.
The underlying theme of kindness and compassion in the face of diversity remained strong throughout. As did the absolute bad-assery of the main character. She never got snowed (see what I did there?) by pretty words or threats either one. She saw a situation that needed fixed and, sometimes even against her will, she fixed it. I’d like to think I’d be the same.
What I hated about the films:
Katniss was portrayed as a lot more selfish than she was in the books.
They cut out or changed what I felt were Major story lines—for instance, where the mockingjay pin came from.
They removed the best line in the first book from the film entirely. Which made Katniss’s reactions in her interview seem… well… lame. Because when Caesar asks her in the book what Primrose said to her after the reaping, she tells him Prim told her to try really hard to win. So Caesar asks her what she said in response, and Katniss says, “I swore I would.”
It’s powerful stuff.
I don’t remember exactly what Katniss said in the film that was so lame, but I do remember almost throwing a shoe at the TV. I had worn that shoe to the store at 6 am to buy the DVD the day it came out. I really regret doing that. It was a Saturday; I could have slept in.
I can’t go on. I’m getting entirely too angry just writing about it.
Read the book. Skip the film. In fact, burn the film if it comes into your presence.
What I loved about the book:
The southern gothic feel of the whole thing. Downright amazing.
The slow build-up of the mystery surrounding Lena.
Amma, the black woman who took care of Ethan and had her own mysteries.
Marian, the librarian who was best friends with Ethan’s mother and a librarian for more than one library. In a spooky way.
The overall spookiness that only these two writers could capture.
What I hated about the film:
They combined the characters of Amma and Marian. Lame. Two such strong characters could not possibly be combined into one with any success. And obviously it was not successful since they didn’t film the rest of the trilogy.
The spookiness wasn’t captured, and the mystery was solved a little too quickly. I know, they can only make a film so long, but perhaps that is why they shouldn’t have made this one into film. Heck, they made two films out of one of those horrible Twilight movies; couldn’t they have done that here?
I found both of the main characters extremely unattractive which made it hard to care about their love story.
Fail. Read the book. Imagine how beautiful Ethan and Lena are for yourself.
What I loved about the book:
Tom is just an everyday 11 year old boy who gets into and out of scrapes with finesse.
The build-up of Tom and Huck’s fear of Injun Joe.
The perfectly captured adventures from the eyes of a child.
Mark Twain’s superb writing style
What I hated about the film (oh, any film. Pick one):
Even though they tend to be to cute, somehow that essence of little-boy-on-the-cusp of manhood just cannot be captured on film.
Without fail, Injun Joe’s character overshadows most of the rest of the story. And the rest of the story is highly entertaining and really Injun Joe is just a background shadow that elicits the willies.
Tom is usually portrayed as a little more troublemaking and a lot less sensitive than he is in the book.
3 movies based on books I could watch over and over again
The Princess Bride
The film is so well-acted and beautiful that I honestly might even prefer it to the book. Cary Elwes was a stunner at the time, and perfectly believable in his role. Mandy Pantinkin was absolutely heroic as Inigo Montoya, and I could watch his “You killed my father. Prepare to die,” scene over and over and over. And I have done. Many, many times. So yeah, read the book, because it rocks. But enjoy the film, too.
Alice in Wonderland
And by that, I mean the Johnny Depp film. Because it doesn’t pretend to be based exactly on the book, it can be enjoyed it all its wonder and beauty without a real comparison. And Depp plays a mean Mad Hatter. And since the Hatter has always been my favorite character, it’s about time someone played him right.
But it’s really nothing like the book. So read the book. Because it’s just plain stunning.
I just feel like this one followed the book extremely well. And for the eighties, that was cast of the hottest of the hot. It isn’t particularly well-acted, I admit. But I have watched it hundreds of times without ever flinching from the thought. Somehow this one did capture the feelings of the book quite well, perhaps because it was so true to the story.
Okay, so I narrowed this list down from about 50 films, and I could go on all day, but I don’t want you to get bored.
I do want to tell you that this is a lead-in post. Starting in November, I’m going to be doing a new series.
Dinner and a Movie
Want to plan a fun family night with your littles that is also mildly educational? Come back to the Lit Mama on the first Friday of every month for Dinner and a Movie. I’ll pick a book-based film and give you suggestions and recipes to munch on while you watch. All taken from the movie or book (or at least loosely based on the story).
You don’t want to miss it. It starts November 4.
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