Book v. Movie

chitty chitty car

I read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang this summer by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame. It is the only children’s book that Ian Fleming wrote, and there are many James Bond influences in the book. Chitty has all kinds of cool car gadgets, and the Potts family gets involved in catching a group of gangsters. What? You don’t remember gangsters in the Dick Van Dyke movie version of Chitty?

chitty chitty bang bangOther than a car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a father who is an inventor, there is very little resemblance between the movie and the book. There are so many movies-based-on-books that barely refer back to the original text. Here are a few book/movie combinations that I disliked, and others that I do like. How do you feel about favorite books that are made into movies?

mr poppers penguins

The movie is nothing like the book.

  • Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang by Ian Feming— Reviews of the 1968 movie do say “loosely based” on the book. Here is a little nugget of trivia; Roald Dahl wrote the script for the movie. When I learned about Dahl, the creepy child catcher made a lot more sense to me.
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater— Critics call the Jim Carrey version of the movie an updated interpretation. If by updated, they mean take every part of the book and do the opposite, they did a good job.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett— Here is my review of the movie: stupid. Apparently, I am the only one who feels this way. The movie was so successful, there is a sequel coming soon.
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien— At least the movie producers had the decency to change the name for the movie to The Secret of NIMH. The whole intelligent rats who have a conscience about stealing (irony) and create a plan, so they no longer steal electricity is pretty fantastical. Why did the movie have to throw a magic stone into the mix?

charlie and the chocolate factory

Don’t miss reading the book, but the movies are good too.

  • Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis— Movies released in 2005, 2008, 2010. I still have fond memories of the animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe from 1979.
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl— I like both the Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp versions. The Johnny Depp version is truer to the book.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White— I think everyone loves the animated film from 1973.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum— Judy Garland movie from 1939. I have not seen the recent Oz movie released in 2013.
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee— It is hard to fault Gregory Peck.

freaky friday

The movie resembles the book (more or less), but I would not recommend seeing the movie.

  • Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks— Movie released in 1995, the Omri character is too irritating.
  • Tale of Despereaux by Kate DeCamillo— Movie released in 2008, Sigourney Weaver narrated.
  • Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers— Movie released in 2003 with Jamie Lee Curtis was bad. My memory of the 1976 movie with Jodie Foster is good. I may need to watch the earlier movie again.
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton— I have not see the 1997 version with John Goodman. I took my children to see the Secret World of Arrietty released in 2010 and promptly fell asleep.

black stallion

Here are some that are up for debate at our house:

  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley— TheRoomDad loved this movie as a child. My memory is a movie that was looong and boring.
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford— I think I would like Homeward Bound released in 1993 better if I did not know about the book and the original animals and setting.

8 thoughts on “Book v. Movie

  1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was the WORST movie ever! How could they ruin such a classic? I told the kids I was boycotting the sequel. Of course, the book is always better than the movie, but we have some favorite movies: Matilda, Coraline, Spiderwick Chronicles (I didn’t love the movie, but did love that my daughter promptly read the entire series after watching it), The Lightening Thief, Ramona and Beezus, and The Nancy Drew movie with Emma Roberts. I actually loved the remake of Freaky Friday with LiLo. I rented the Jodie Foster version for the kids recently, and totally forgot that she (Jodie as Mom) smokes and drinks in it! I finally tracked down the movie that goes with The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler that was made in the late 70s. Can’t wait to watch it!

    • Jamie Lee Curtis makes me crazy! I can’t sit through any of her movies, which is probably why I have such a distaste for her version of Freaky Friday. I love Matilda with Mara Wilson. I thought the casting was great.

  2. I enjoyed both the book and the movie Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang. Many people do not realize that Ian Fleming actually wrote the book. In the movie, only Dick Van Dyke could have pulled that off and yes, the movie does stray away from the book. But it’s still a classic for those of us who grew up in that era.

  3. While I haven’t seen all the movies on your list (and really don’t care to), I agree that so many films simply do not live up to the books on which they are (often loosely) based. I can think of only one exception–the Hallmark version of Sarah Plain and Tall. Thank you for visiting and once again liking my blog.

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