Movie adaptations are tricky when it comes to the-book-was-better crowd. Most of us scoff at the very idea that a good book could translate well as movie. Though several have managed to hold a flame to their literary counterparts, I’m often reminded by my filmmaker friend’s words, “They’re two different mediums. You can’t compare them. One doesn’t have to remain faithful to the other.” And, in a way, it’s true. Nobody every picks up a novelization of a film and point at the page and complain about how that didn’t happen in the movie.
There are a few movies that manage to tell a better story than their novels. How to Train Your Dragon comes to mind. Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kick-Ass 2 by Mark Millar became superb (fine, I’m only talking about Kick-Ass and its sequel here) films on the big screen.
The Spectacular Now kept me guessing. I liked the book, but disliked the story. Starting off by plowing through the early character development, the film started off as a disappointment. Coupled with poor casting choices—Shailene Woodley as Aimee raised the same question as Shia being cast in Transformers. Miles Teller as Sutter Keely left a metallic flavor in my mouth. The altering of Cassidy’s voluptuous figure to the Hollywood teenage girl crushed the spirit of love who you are. How can you when the film industry keeps telling you that anything more than below average isn’t sexy? Even Aimee’s best friend suffered from film liposuction.
However, as the film progressed, I became more accepting of Teller’s Sutter and tolerated Woodley’s Aimee. And everything I disliked about the book was mended in the film. So what if it’s typical? Sometimes, you want the character you’re rooting for to realize the errors of his way and make up for them. We want redemption even if it’s not your cookie-cutter ending.
I wanted Sutter Keely to grow up in the book, not just become accepting that others are growing up around him.