Don't Judge This Book By Its Movie

Around here, fans of Kerouac's On the Road are giddy with anticipation and anxiety (okay, mostly anxiety) about the upcoming film adaptation, which already received some mixed reviews following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. We're making a list of great books that were turned into less-than-great movies, and we want your help.

Take a look at the books we've selected so far. Is there a horrible movie adaptation out there that we've forgotten to include? Is your favorite movie on this list and you want to plead its case? Let me know in the comments. We'll incorporate your suggestions and publish the final version of the list in a couple of weeks on our booklist page.

[Update: 11/29/12] The final version of our booklist is now available online! Thanks again to all of you who contributed to this project. You came up with some great suggestions. Let's do it again soon!

Written by Brett on November 15, 2012


Cori J. on November 15, 2012


My nominee is The Shining by Stephen King. The book was terrifying but the movie was so over-the-top that instead of being scared, I laughed!


Yeah, Nicholson starts chewing the scenery pretty early on in that one. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous Hipp… on November 16, 2012


don't even get me started about On the Road...
can you believe that kristen stewart is going to be on the cover of such a game changing novel?! it's blasphemous i say!!!! ugh

Janet on November 16, 2012


The Scarlet Letter - I couldn't bring myself to watch this one after the reviews said how bad and how unfaithful it was to the original story. The movie deserves a big red "A" of its own for what it did to the novel.

Contact - The brilliant novel by Carl Sagan, one of my favorite novels, was terribly adapted for the screen and awfully miscast.

xeriscaper on November 18, 2012


All of the Harry Potter films, except the first, were a big disappointment. It wasn't just the massive omission of huge swaths of story; it was also how frequently the storyline was altered for no apparent reason (like which member of Dumbledore's Army found the Room of Requirement so the members could practice). The worst, for me, was Dumbledore's death. In the book, Dumbledore had put a paralyzing charm on Harry to keep him safe under the invisibility cloak during the attack, knowing that Harry wouldn't be able to adhere to his promise to obey Dumbledore and remain hidden. In the movie, Harry isn't petrificussed but stays hidden and meekly silent because the man he distrusts only second to Voldemort (Snape) gestures to Harry to be quiet. Totally out of character!

Oh, and one that's stuck in my craw for decades: Michener's Hawaii.

Anonymous on November 19, 2012


Most of Stephen King's books have been made into terrible movies. With exceptions such as The Green Mile - stick to the books! ;)

Brett on November 19, 2012


Thank you all for the suggestions! We'll get them added to the final version. In the meantime, I've received pleas to take these movies off the list:

American Psycho
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Lovely Bones
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
The Name of the Rose

What do you think? Were these adaptations up to par? Do you have a soft place in your heart for these or any of the other movies listed above? Let me know!

Hill on November 19, 2012


I really loved Myla Goldberg's Bee Season, but the movie was awful.

Also, the movie version of Dorothy Allison's Cavedweller only covered the very first part of the plot. It didn't even get to the spelunking part, so the title didn't make sense! Grrr.


Thanks, Hill. I haven't seen 'Cavedweller,' but I'll take your word for it so I don't have to. :)

Anonymous on November 19, 2012


Since you've noted Alan Moore why stop at LoEG. How about: From Hell, Watchmen and V for Vendetta? All the movie adaptations were completely horrible...

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