J: In your opinion, what is the worst movie (or TV) adaptation of a book you've read? And on the flip side, which movie (or TV) adaptation did you think was actually better than the book?
Jennifer: I realize this is a pretty broad question but couldn't think of a good way to narrow it down, so interpret it however you like. My answer to the first part is possibly ridiculous because I'm going to pick young adult books that were made into TV movies. Obviously I shouldn't have had such high expectations of TV movies, but bad is bad. The first is A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors. All that needs to be said about that is that Mischa Barton played Vicky, the main character. Runner up is The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, a book with a totally ridiculous premise but was really engrossing and I thought written quite well. Another bad casting choice for the TV movie -- Kellie Martin. I actually don't mind Kellie Martin normally but I thought she was just so completely wrong for the role of Janie. These were so bad I've kind of blocked them from my memory so I can't even go into more detail of why I hated them!
As for adaptations that I thought were better than the book, I might as well keep with the teen genre and go with Gossip Girl and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The Gossip Girl book series was a phenomenon on its own but after reading the first few I realized that none of the characters were particularly likable. In my opinion, the TV series took the setting and the basic idea of the characters and went in a different and better direction. With the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I thought the books were fine although the writing was somewhat weak, but the movie was one of my favorites from that year. The movie didn't change much of the story at all but the casting was pretty darn near perfect with America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, and Blake Lively.
Mira: For worst adaptation, I'm going to go with The Golden Compass. It's too hard for me to go through adult books->movie/tv because those are easily displaced in my memory. Plus, it's hard for me to really remember how good those adult books might have been. But children's books I read over and over again. (I will comment that I was contemplating ALL of Nicholas Sparks' books to movies, minus The Notebook, which sadly I love. But on this hate list are: A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, and even though I haven't seen it I already hate Dear John. The only thing is... I can't really say his books are all that fantastic either... But at least two out of three of those movies, Walk/Nights, were excruciating for me to sit through.) Anyway, back to The Golden Compass. The reason this movie was so disappointing for me is because it has such great stuff to work with -- I thought that the actors and actresses picked for the movie were perfectly chosen, the special effects to create the world were beautifully thought out, and the storyline from the book quite fantastic, unique and interesting! But the movie itself just fell so short of what it could have been. It felt flat, it was just a nice story, and I was majorly disappointed in it. Overall it wasn't a terrible movie, and if it's on TV, I'm okay sitting through parts of it again, but... it just could have been so much better so for that... it sucks! :)
On the other end, I pick The Princess Diaries. It's similar to Jenn and Sisterhood (which I, too, LOVE!) in that the book(s) aren't terrible at all. In fact I really enjoyed some of the series. But it's very childish and Mia in the book is pretty one-dimensional in that she's a teenage girl who's just that, a teenage girl. Anne Hathaway does an excellent job adding depth to a character who actually comes off being much more mature in the movie than in the book. Julie Andrews as the grandmother brings to life a character that's just not that memorable to me from the book. Plus she plays royalty to the T! :) I love, love, love this movie. Also, this is a rare thing for me to say because I am a person who loves to re-read books (I've read most of my favorite books at least 5 times or more), but I'd much rather re-watch the movie than re-read the books in this case.