You're thrilled that will be a movie adaptation of your favorite book. You can't wait to see if what you imagined as you turned the pages translates onto the big screen. Then as you're viewing the film, your joy turns first to horror then to utter disgust as you realize that the entire book has been butchered worse than someone stuck in a room with Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. You leave the theater with steam coming out of your ears.
Translating a book into a movie is tough, yes, because no one visualizes things the same way. That doesn't let Hollywood off the hook. since these following movies were ones where the creative decisions were truly terrible.
The Scarlet Letter
This movie took a classic novel and pretty much spat all over it. Demi Moore turns in a dull performance and not even the great Gary Oldman could save it. They took a situation that was supposed to be about the shame of adulturous sex and made it even more tawdry.What made matters worse was the fact that they changed the ending to a happier one. Moore even defended the movie by saying that not many people had read the book (I think every English teacher in the nation tore up the newspaper when they read that quote). Nathaniel Hawthorne was probably spinning fast enough in his grave to power Manhattan for 10,000 years.
Bonfire of the Vanities
If you want to look up the term 'surefire hit', this movie should have been in there. It had Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. Admittedly, it was before they became TOM HANKS and BRUCE WILLIS, but they should have had the charisma to pull off this adaptation of the satirical Tom Wolfe novel. The problem was, they went with a comedy instead of making it a dramedy. Melanie Griffith was wasted, too. There were no Masters of The Universe here.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Nicolas Cage can act in a drama. Watch Leaving Las Vegas. He can do it. This was not a good drama for him. He especially can't convincingly play an Italian. There was no real chemistry between Penelope Cruz and Cage. It also deviated a lot from the book and the movie just seemed to set the stage for Cage to start taking weirder and weirder roles (with a couple of National Treasures sandwiched in between).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp version)
I like how the Gene Wilder version did with the childhood classic book. Wilder played Willy Wonka as a whimsical sort who enjoyed confounding the people who entered his domain. Depp, an actor who has really embraced eccentric roles of late, made a high-strung pale ghoul who probably was nightmare fuel for every kid that saw the movie in the theater. It just changed the whole overall tone from the book and was a bad choice. I wonder if Depp's own children were like, "Um... Dad?" when they saw this.
The Great Gatsby (both versions)
I read "The Great Gatsby" a long time ago, but I had a fixed image of Jay Gatsby. It sure as heck wasn't Robert Redford, who played the titular character in the '70s version and I never saw Leo DiCaprio. For some reason, I also didn't have the music of Jay-Z blaring in my mind when I read the book either. The modern version actually did fairly well in the theater, but I didn't see it as a good adaptation, since it was too glittery.
Any live-action Dr. Seuss movie
I don't think Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, had Jim Carrey and Mike Myers (the SNL actor, not the homicidal slasher I mentioned in the introductory paragraph) in mind when he wrote "The Grinch Whole Stole Christmas" and "The Cat In The Hat" respectively. He might have had issues casting someone who thought high comedy was talking with his butt cheeks and another who devised a character who was morbidly obese and would scream things like, "GET..IN...MY...BELLY!!!!" I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
The dumbest decision in this movie was to remove the presence of the Greek Gods. You know, the ones that were a huge impetus behind the scenes for many of the events that took place during this epic? I think Zeus would have at least thrown a thunderbolt in the direction of Brad Pitt for making Achilles such a whiny, pouty prettyboy baby. There was such a big chance to make an epic movie and the creators punted on it; Such a shame.
I like Jack Black. I do. I loved School of Rock and found his turn in Tropic Thunder to be hilarious. When I saw that he was going to be doing a version of this classic tale, with several key points changed, my first, second and third instincts were, "Uh... no". Sure enough, it relied on kiddie humor and failed to carry anything from its original source.
Running With Scissors
This was a movie that I was actually looking forward to seeing, since I'm a big fan of Augusten Burroughs. Sadly, the movie took mental illness and had its characters act like cartoon characters. Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening and Joseph Fiennes all had their talent wasted in this movie. It was from a memoir too, which just made it worse. I found it a good opportunity vastly squandered.
I don't care that the Asimov estate approved of this movie, one that took only a couple of names from the book and made it a COMPLETELY different film. I think Isaac, if he were still alive, would have taken one look at the script and sneered at the writers, "You're kidding, right?" I don't think he pictured Will Smith sliding down a huge tower screaming at a sentient computer.
More:Melissa Joan Hart: Sabrina, The Teen-Age Drug AddictZack Galifianakis Interviews Justin Bieber... And It's AwesomeIs this Nina Dobrev/Derek Hough Relationship Going To Get Awkward?
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Chilean miner Edison Pena performed some Elvis for David Letterman. A translator was there to keep the conversation going, since Letterman doesn’t speak Spanish and Pena doesn’t speak English, and it was pretty awesome to watch their exchange about how he went to the bathroom way down in the mine.
Up until this very point, I thought the person on the cover of the November issue of Vogue was Eva Mendez. But last night, Jay Leno whipped out a copy of it and applauded Anne Hathaway for it. I suppose it’s my fault. I should have realized it was her by the bi-line, which said “Anne Hathaway: I’m too trusting.” She told Leno about what it was like to go to Paris to shoot the cover, and how annoying it was to be in Paris while on a diet. Perhaps she'd rather be a miner?
Dr. Phil was on Jimmy Fallon last night and told Fallon how one time, Oprah shaved off his mustache and it was so terrible. Clearly he bought himself a leather jacket to help him recuperate.
Jon Stewart and his crew talked about Obama’s reaction to the election results, after his party drew the shortest straw and had were forced to go back to using the suspicious plant to complete their hygienic routines.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cThe Mourning Afterwww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
And David Sedaris sat down for a quick chat with Stewart about his new book, “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.” It’s a compilation of fables that are told with animals, which sounds great, but I’d much rather read about what would happen if you put David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs in a freight elevator that’s stuck between floors 5 and 6.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cDavid Sedariswww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
And Stephen Colbert did his segment, “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger” about how the TSA now is taking pictures of our naked bodies using machines that scan through our clothes to check us for weapons, and how Bert of Sesame Street seems to be finally coming to grips with his sexuality.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cTip/Wag - TSA, Bert & Dogswww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive
Adapted from Augusten Burroughs’ bestselling 2002 memoir which redefined the notion of a dysfunctional upbringing—or f’d-upbringing in his case—Scissors initially follows the dynamic between sweet quirky Augusten (Joseph Cross) and his increasingly erratic and unstable mother Deirdre (Annette Bening) whose overwhelming combination of relentless self-pity artistic pretensions and attention-whoring torpedoes her marriage and throws Augusten’s youth into a morass of high-drama chaos. Deirdre seeks solace from—and becomes irretrievably dependent upon—her unconventional therapist Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) a pseudo-intellectual upper--and downer--dispensing Santa Clause figure. But when Augusten is brought to live in the Finches’ home as part of his mother’s therapy he discovers a family in an equally extreme state of psychological disarray. There’s Finch’s long-suffering kibble-eating wife (Jill Clayburgh); devoted but uptight older daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow); rebellious Goth Girl younger daughter (Evan Rachel Wood); and the adopted son (Joseph Fiennes) perhaps the most dangerously damaged of the lot. The film follows Augusten’s journey to alternately connect and disconnect with his freakish foster family and especially his mother as she hurdles down a path toward complete mental breakdown. Bening is undeniably one of the finest most fearless actresses working in Hollywood having made a specialty of cracking the brittle facades of women on the brink--from American Beauty to Being Julia to Mrs. Harris. Deirdre’s high-strung starting point begins where most of these characters end though and Bening robustly charges unblinking into the abyss her performance powering the film—towering over it actually. The members of the A-list ensemble rises to her occasion without resorting to chewing the scenery: Fiennes fuels his part with pathos; Cox is refreshingly loopy yet utterly straight-faced as a highly rationalizing but very very bad therapist; Alec Baldwin as Augusten’s dad is as dry and stinging as a particularly stiff martini; Wood charges up an underwritten role; Clayburgh deftly sidesteps what might have been a caricature to provide the film’s most moving moment; and Paltrow makes even her barely-there character memorable. Least served in the crowd though is the otherwise well-cast newcomer Cross as the protagonist who too often gets lost when the film focuses on the showier side characters. Unfortunately acting excellence becomes the primary reason to follow the film to its conclusion. Director Ryan Murphy the driving force behind the TV drama Nip/Tuck has in his directorial debut delivered a film that is just as frustrating as that series serving up deliciously juicy individual sequences and potent moments of emotional truth and then just as quickly derailing them with pulpy contrived twists and an insistence on artificial eccentricity that echoes the worst impulses of say Wes Anderson. While the film adeptly depicts many of the serious hilarious and heartbreaking moments that defined Burroughs’ off-kilter youth it also indulges in a relentless subtlety-free quirkiness of style and setting—too often the only way to stay invested is to remind oneself that these things did indeed happen to the real Burroughs. Murphy’s over-stylized “Get it? They’re all CRAZY!” approach not only fails to match the dry detached and urbanely witty tone of Burroughs’ memoir it often undermines the intense clarity of his actors’ spot-on instincts. Ultimately it takes more than one of Murphy’s TV plastic surgeons to disguise the scars left from his cinematic sprint wielding scissors.