Hello Dress Down readers!
Hollywood has never read a book it didn’t want to adapt, or at least it feels that way! How often do you hear that a book has been optioned for a movie? It’s common these days that movie rights are snapped up and used as a selling point in marketing campaigns even before the book hits the shelves. It can be exciting to hear that a favourite book is being turned into a movie, but it can also strike fear in your heart that Hollywood will mess it all up by casting the wrong actors, and making your favourite characters unrecognizable.
I could make a long list of adaptations I consider to be good (Life of Pi) and bad (The Time Traveler’s Wife – not just bad, but atrocious!), but I think it’s time to check out some recent and upcoming book adaptations that I am excited to see.
The first three, I’ve read and loved the books, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Hollywood didn’t f*ck those up! The rest, I haven’t read the book, but they just look like movies I’m going to enjoy…
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
The Maze Runner trilogy is one of my favourites in the vast YA dystopia genre. Thomas wakes up in the Glade, with no memory other than his name. The Glade is surrounded by a huge maze, and there is a whole community of boys living there, working there, wondering how the hell to get out of there…
Thomas joins the runners, who run the maze each day to map out a way to escape the Glade. Things get interesting when the first girl arrives, and she appears to know Thomas. I hope this skews towards The Hunger Games and Divergent franchises in terms of success. There is a pile of suck where the first movies in many promising teen franchises have gone to die – I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, Eragon and Vampire Academy come to mind – and I have much higher hopes for The Maze Runner.
Personally, I think it looks awesome! Production values look slick, and I like the casting too. I was thrilled when they cast Dylan O’Brien, who is such a charmer on Teen Wolf. Kaya Scodelario from Skins was bound to end up in a YA franchise at some point, and in fact she was on a lot of people’s wish lists to play Tris in Divergent. Throw in Thomas Brodie-Sangster, wee Sam from Love Actually, Will Poulter from Son of Rambow (and We’re the Millers, but you don’t think I actually watched that, do you?), Patricia Clarkson, who elevates anything she’s in, and a bunch of newcomers who look exactly as I imagined them from reading the books, and we are set.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Jonas has grown up in a utopian society where everyone is assigned a specific job at the age of twelve. He is chosen as the Receiver of Memories – memories of love and strife and pain that others in his society do not have. He learns more than he bargained for about the truth behind their utopia.
I just don’t know you guys. I read this book for the first time recently, so I’m not attached to it like others who read it 20 years ago, but based on the trailers they have certainly made a lot of changes! The 12 year old characters have been firmly aged up into their teens, and there are scenes of rebellion and romance that make this look just like any other recent teen dystopia movie. Lois won the Newbery Medal (an American children’s lit award) for The Giver back in 1994, and I’m afraid the subtleties of the story may have been overlooked to keep up with the big YA hits of the moment – I’m looking at you again Hunger Games! I love those books and movies, but I don’t know if that influence will make for a great adaptation of this particular book.
That being said, this project has been a labour of love for Jeff Bridges for many years (he was originally planning to direct his father Lloyd in the role of The Giver), and it has Lois Lowry’s stamp of approval, so perhaps it will all turn out ok? If all else fails, at least we have Meryl being awesome as per usual, ASkars for some eye candy, and a chance to see if Taylor Swift can play anything other than “avid gym goer”.
This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
Tropper writes what I like to call Guy Lit. Main character Judd finds out his wife is cheating on him shortly before the death of his father. His father’s dying request is for his family to reunite under the same roof for the first time in years, so the whole family returns home to sit shiva and deal with decades of dysfunction. It sounds depressing, but it’s hilarious! The family rabbi is named Boner, to give you a sense of what we’re working with.
This stars ALL THE PEOPLE! Jason Bateman! Tina Fey! Jane Fonda! Connie Britton! Adam Driver! Timothy Olyphant! Kathryn Hahn! Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec! Maureen’s mom from Center Stage! It’s ridiculous really, just watch the trailer for more.
The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais
Madame Mallory’s life running her Michelin starred restaurant in rural France is disrupted by the arrival of an Indian family who open a restaurant across the street. A rivalry starts up, but Hassan, the son of the newcomers, is a born chef with an interest in French cuisine, and Madame Mallory night be the perfect mentor.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Lasse Hallström has directed two Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations, but this movie is along the lines of his crowd pleasers Chocolat and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, so I’ll just put the Sparks thing out of my head and fill it with this fun fact: Did you know he directed all of ABBA’s music videos? Mind blown!
I also wouldn’t have guessed I’d ever see Raj from the new 90210 (yes I watched that, SHUT UP!) in a movie with the incomparable Dame Helen Mirren, but here we are. Helen has great chemistry with him of course, and she plays nicely off Om Puri as the head of Hassan’s family too. It’s a charming film, with the perfect recipe of family drama, romance, beautiful French countryside, and oh my God, FOOD! Remember to eat before you go, because your popcorn is not going to cut it.
Hector and the Search For Happiness, by Francois Lelord
As the title suggests, Hector is on the hunt for happiness. He’s a psychiatrist who picks up from his ordinary life to travel the world to find what makes people happy. Author Francois Lelord is a psychiatrist himself, and incorporated his knowledge into a novel that has been compared to The Little Prince and The Alchemist.
I am always up for a Simon Pegg movie, and he reunites with Rosamunde Pike (soon to be Amazing Amy in Gone Girl, but also his costar in the hilarious The World’s End) who stands out for me in everything she does. This looks like the great mix of comedy and emotion that I love. If you think my eyes are dry at Christopher Plummer’s “The more we focus on our own personal happiness, the more it eludes us. We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit.”, then you don’t know me at all (big sap, HUGE!).
Horns, by Joe Hill
Ignatius “Ig” Parrish wakes up with a dead girlfriend, no idea of what happened to her, and his whole town suspecting he murdered her. On the anniversary of her death Ig gets blind drunk, up to no good, and wakes up with horns growing from his head. With the horns comes newfound power that could help him find his girlfriend’s killer, and maybe get a little revenge at the same time.
So excited for this one! Joe Hill is a chip off the old block – the block being none other than the legendary Stephen King – and he wrote some twisted/scary/amazing story lines in his graphic novel Locke & Key. Horns looks to have the same strange sensibility, but one of the weirdest things for me is seeing my beloved Dan Rad with an American accent!
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
17 year old Mia is a gifted cellist, with a loving family and boyfriend. She is in a terrible car accident with her family, and has an out of body experience where she flashes back over her life and must decide to stay or go. This should appeal to the The Fault In Our Stars crowd for sure.
I thought I’d had a love/hate relationship with Chloë Grace Moretz over the years, until I looked at her IMDB and realized just how many projects of hers I am a fan of. She was great in the “wise beyond her years” roles as Peter Krause’s daughter in Dirty, Sexy Money and Joseph Gordon Levitt’s little sister in (500) Days of Summer. She was a terrific Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, a great foil for Jack Donaughey on 30 Rock, and of course Hugo was very sweet. I think it was some instances of pose-hard behaviour on the red carpet, and her decision to star in Let Me In, the ridiculously unnecessary remake of the most perfect Swedish film Let the Right One In, that I hated. I’m over it though, and just in time for this, plus the upcoming Laggies and Dark Places too.
The November Man, based on the book There Are No Spies, by Bill Granger
This is the 7th book in his November Man series. I know nothing about the book, other than it is a spy thriller, and nothing about the movie, other than Pierce Brosnan is aging well. That is all.
So how about you? Got a favourite adaptation that they got so, so right, or an upcoming release you’re afraid they’ll get so, so wrong?