They say that a movie can’t be better than the book – but these five adaptations prove otherwise.
These five movies prove that it is possible to be better than the book. It’s all a matter of opinion, of course. Unless you didn’t like Mean Girls as much as the book, in which case, we have nothing to say to you.
Nicholas Sparks’ novel The Notebook inspired the hit film of the same name. The book was based on a true story, and was Spark’s first published novel.
Why was it better? The basis is there, but the book lacks the intensity that made the movie so watchable, and emotional. Unable to convey the depth and emotional strength of Noah and Allie’s relationship, the story remains the same, but has far less impact than the movie. There was no way of knowing what amazing chemistry Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams would have together – but (unfortunately for Sparks), they completely showed up the book. Plus, Ryan Gosling wasn’t in the book, so it automatically loses.
‘The Devil Wears Prada’
The Devil Wears Prada was inspired by the book of the same name by Lauren Weisberger. It is generally assumed that Weisberger’s book was based on her own experiences working as assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Why was it better? Two words: Meryl Streep. Okay, a few more words: Streep can make something out of nothing, and her portrayal of Miranda Priestly brought a complexity to the character that did not exist in the novel. Less concerned with listing Priestly’s horrible demands than with actually telling a story, the film adaptation took an okay book and turned it into a thoroughly enjoyable film, thanks almost entirely to Streep, the always wonderful Stanley Tucci, and a hilarious turn by Emily Blunt.
Warm Bodies is the 2013 adaptation of Isaac Marion’s zombie romance of the same name, starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer in a zombie-fied Romeo and Juliet story.
Why was it better? This opinion might be controversial, but it shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism of Marian’s book, which was fantastic. (The film was just better.) The visual medium allowed the elements explored in the novel to be conveyed more effectively – like R’s use of music to communicate. It was also one of the rare cases when a story benefited from the removal of the majority of the internal monologues. Reading Warm Bodies was compelling, but the added humour of the film, an amazing performance by Nicholas Hoult, and the subtle parodying of the zombie genre made it that much more enjoyable.
‘Howl’s Moving Castle’
This animated classic was inspired by the Diana Wynne Jones novel of the same name. The award-winning novel was published in 1986, and was followed by two sequels – Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways.
Why was it better? Diana Wynne Jones doesn’t know how to write a bad book, but the film adaptation of Howl’s managed to make it even better. The script compacted the story, filtering the somewhat cluttered nature of the original for a streamlined plot. But the real reason that the film is far superior to the book is down to the work by cinematic visionary Hayao Miyazaki. The glorious animation elevated the story, showcasing the fantastical world created by Jones, as well as new elements added in by Miyazaki. This was a truly magical improvement.
Not all Mean Girls fans may know that the cult classic that kicked off the careers of many of today’s stars was based on a nonfiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.
Why was it better? Let’s be honest, this is a completely one-sided competition. In Mean Girls, Tina Fey used the very best bits of Queen Bees and Wannabes while creating a cohesive storyline – something lacking (unsurprisingly) in the nonfiction original. Queen Bees and Wannabes might be educational, but it is also severely lacking in one-liners, and in Tina Fey. The film also gave us joy in the form of Amy Poehler, mouse costumes, the best group conversation ever shown on film, and a somewhat surprisingly deep and important message. Go team!
Are these films better than the book?
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