Readers get excited when their fave books become movies. Jennifer Pilato reveals which adaptations worked and which ones didn’t.
I remember it was a few years ago when I heard that my favorite book, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, was being made into a movie. I had devoured that book and its sequel, Something Blue, in one day staying up until nearly 2am because I just could not put them down. There was this incredible excitement as I refreshed Emily Giffin’s Facebook page to receive updates about casting and release dates. So many of her dedicated fans had advice on who they would cast in the lead roles. It was a discussion amongst my friends and I over coffee on many different occasions. I think when we all start reading a book, a book we love so much, we always want to see the live version of it (as long as it’s done right of course!)
A perfect example of this is The Notebook. I felt that it did the beautiful love story that Nicholas Sparks wrote justice. I thought that it followed along with the book and that it absolutely was cast with the perfect people in each main role. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling brought the love story from the pages to the movie screen flawlessly.
Another fantastic movie adaptation of a book was the wildly popular Bridget Jones’s Diary, which followed Helen Fielding’s book in a way that represented how fans felt about the novel. They left the movie theater satisfied and wanting the sequel to also be greenlit. Renee Zellweger was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the lovable character.
Another example of a book that I loved that I thought was perfectly shaped into a movie was In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. It was funny because while I was reading it, the main character falls in love with someone and the way that Jennifer Weiner described him all I could think was that if someone turned that book into a movie, I could only see Mark Feuerstein playing Simon. I was stunned when I went to see the movie and that was exactly who was playing her love interest.
The Princess Diaries and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies were also happily received by women who had adored the books. Both movies had the perfect casts (upcoming stars such as Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively before Gossip Girl, America Ferrera before Ugly Betty, and of course Julie Andrews as the sophisticated grandmother to Anne Hathaway’s reluctant princess).
Sometimes movies made from books completely meet your expectations and sometimes they exceed them. I, much like everyone else, read The Devil Wears Prada years ago. I didn’t like the book at all. But, when I heard that Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway were playing the two lead roles, I had to see the movie. Of course, it was brilliant. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep took these incredible roles and ran with them. Emily Blunt, playing Miranda’s other secretary, was absolutely hilarious. Watching the movie heightened my appreciation for the story and although I did absolutely love it, the book still disappointed me.
Much like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. When I worked at a bookstore a few years ago, everyone was reading it and begging me to read it. I tried it, but I couldn’t get through it. However, I loved Julia Roberts in the main role and fell in love with the cinematic version of this woman’s journey.
My Sister’s Keeper, an incredible profound novel by Jodi Picoult, is an example of a great book let down by its big screen version. It was another book that friends begged me to read and when I finished it, it stayed with me for many days after. When I heard that they were making it into a movie, I could only hope that they made it with the same grace and care that I assume Jodi Picoult had written it. Unfortunately, with the exception of Abigail Breslin, it was completely miscast and because Hollywood changed the ending, it became something entirely different from the book. The ending of Picoult’s masterpiece makes the entire story what it is. The movie ending was just plain disappointing.
Confessions of a Shopaholic, while well cast, unfortunately also disappointed many fans for rushing through the witty, absorbing series written by Sophie Kinsella. Those books were so well loved and received, many fans were left wondering why the film didn’t follow the story better.
There is a lot of discussion now, of course, on the casting of Fifty Shades of Grey. Anastasia and Christian must be perfect. There is much speculation about who might play the roles and how the story will play out. Due to movie ratings and the nature of the content, many fans want to see this done properly.
It’s really what we all want when we open a fantastic book, a book that doesn’t leave us even after the last page has been read, and we hear that someone in Hollywood has opted to make it into a feature film. For books that we hold so close, so dear to our hearts, we want them to be done the exact same way so that what we imagine in our minds as the words are leaping off the pages is the same that a director sees as he or she turns it into a movie.
It is so important to devoted readers that when we leave a movie that has been made from our favorite books, we feel it has done the book justice, that it is something we love. There are some books that I have read that I would love to see turned into a movie if done properly. Emily Giffin’s latest novel, Where We Belong, would be a wonderful movie if cast correctly. I would love to see the concept of A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff brought to life. Sammy’s Hill and Sammy’s House, both quirky, fun, smart novels by Kristin Gore, would also make fantastic leaps from page to screen.
If written, directed, and cast properly, what are some books you would love to see turned into a movie?