So you just finished my Weekly Geeks entry about the worst book-to-film adaptation of all time. What now? Well, as a bonus, I thought I’d compile a list of movies that are actually better than the original book they were based on. It’s rare when this happens, and it’s the exception, not the rule, but it does happen. I could think of three.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud – The movie with Robert Redford and Glenn Close was fantastic. One of the all-time classic baseball movies. The book? Pretty much the same story until the very end. I guess Malamud thought that Hobbs hitting the home-run that wins the Knights the pennant was too Hollywood. In this book, Roy strikes out, loses the game and dies penniless, alone and forgotten in a New York City sewer. There’s actually a bit at the end where someone wonders, years later, what happened to him. Yeah, that’s a much better ending.
Forrest Gump by Winston Groom – Granted, I’m not a HUGE fan of this movie, but it was sweet and entertaining enough that I don’t hate it. The book, however, receives the full brunt of my white hot hatred. It contains a lot of the story in the movie, plus so much other utterly insane crap that several times I had to look at the front of the book to make sure I was still reading Forrest Gump. Part of the book takes place in the African Jungles where Forrest is lost for years (he even marries a tribal woman from an African tribe he lives with). There’s also an entire section of Forrest going to live with Jenny at college and them doing nothing but having sex everyday. Seriously. EVERYDAY. Jenny even mentions it. And don’t worry, I checked, I was not, in fact, reading the novelization of Forrest Hump, it was Forrest Gump. That wasn’t the only thing. He also becomes an astronaut and blah blah blah. It’s endless monotonous marches through history that we got plenty of in the movie. But it was more. And more obnoxiously over-the-top. Needless to say, I really didn’t like the book.
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons – I talked about this last week, but I have never been a fan of this graphic novel. The premise and the overall idea that Moore was trying to get across, I loved. However the presentation left a lot to be desired. It seemed dense and all over the place to me. The movie took the book and set it in a more focused timeline and gave you the same ideas that were posited in the graphic novel but in a more satisfying way. So, to me, the movie is better and more enjoyable than the graphic novel. However, I am going to give this novel one more chance (third time is the charm) to wow me, but I’m not expecting any difference than the first two times I read it.