Everyone knew it would happen eventually, but the moment seems to have finally come when fans of the books have begun to turn on Game of Thrones for not being faithful enough to their beloved tomes. This is, of course, incredibly annoying if only because it was so, so predictable. (Note: I’m a big fan of both the books and the show, but apparently you are now required by law to choose sides.) This is because this always happens whenever a beloved book is adapted, but those slagging on Game of Thrones might want to take a moment and ponder that things could be worse. How bad could it be? Well, it could be one of these eight book adaptations that were much, much worse than Game of Thrones.
8. ‘Less Than Zero’
I would call Bret Easton Ellis’ debut novel dark, but that would be selling it almost ludicrously short. It’s a nihilistic whirlwind filled with unpleasant assholes doing unpleasant asshole things. There is not even a hint of a sympathetic character, no one to stand back and judge things from the outside, no one who “sees the light.” And that’s what makes it work. It’s a messed up book about messed up people. So what did the movie version do? It took the main character of Clay and tried to redeem him, making the focus of the story his attempt to “save” his druggie friend, Julian. In effect, it turned the whole affair into an inane Reagan era “Drugs, don’t do it, kids!” message film. Patrick Bateman would have chopped all these idiots into little bits and then snorted them.
7. ‘The Cat in the Hat’
The cat in Dr. Seuss’ beloved children’s classic was witty, sly and subversive. The cat in the movie version, helpfully named Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat for all the dullards out there, played by Mike Myers, was just an obnoxious a-hole. He – and the move itself – had all the subtly of a dude pulling his drawers down and ripping ass in the middle of church. The entire tone of the book was obliterated, and in its place was a noisy, obnoxious, mean-spirited jackhole of a movie. I don’t know whose cat in a hat this was, but it sure as hell wasn’t the good doctor’s.
6. ‘The Perfect Catch/Fever Pitch’
Fever Pitch is Nick Hornby’s ode to the insanity of soccer fandom in all its unique, beautiful, ridiculous glory. Naturally, Hollywood turned it into a rom-com starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. And, oh yeah, they made it about baseball and turned everyone into an annoying Red Sox fan cliché. No wonder they changed the name. It would be like if they took one of Hornby’s other books, About a Boy, and turned it into a TV series about a precocious American kid with a whacky, man-child neighbor. Oh. Oh, I see.
Frank Herbert’s much-loved sci-fi novel was ambitious, dense, and, let’s face it, utterly unfilmable. Naturally, Hollywood tried anyway, and almost like admitting defeat right out of the gate, they gave the project to the insane David Lynch. Lynch, living up to his reputation, went ahead and made a movie which just confused everyone. Look, you know you’re in trouble when you’ve already lost 90% of the audience before you can even finish the ludicrously info-heavy intro. The whole thing was just a complete mess. When Sting trying to act isn’t even the most absurd thing about your movie, you know you’ve taken it to a bad place.
4. ‘Queen of the Damned’
Queen of the Damned is probably the climax of Anne Rice’s entire epic vampire series, tying together threads that began with Interview With the Vampire and continued on in that book’s sequel, The Vampire Lestat. Naturally, the movie just ignored all that shit, and made up its own lame vampire story that comes across more like a SyFy original than a worthy follow-up to even the so-so movie version of Interview With the Vampire. It’s that rare adaptation that both shits all over the book it’s based on, and the movie series it’s supposed to be a part of. Even Xenu knew this would suck, considering that Tom Cruise is nowhere to be found this time around.
3. ‘The Iliad/Troy’
Perhaps appropriately given the reason for this topic, Troy was adapted from The Iliad by screenwriter David Benioff, best known as the dude responsible for the TV version of Game of Thrones. And hopefully, Benioff learned a few lessons, because this movie is just a mess. It’s not so much an attempt to tell the story of The Iliad as it is an attempt to use The Iliad to tell the same big budget sword and sandals epic Hollywood’s been trying to tell – and sell – since pictures started to move. It’s sexed up and dumbed down, with dumb romantic subplots and embarrassing Orlando Blooms galore. These are exactly the same complaints fans of A Song of Ice and Fire have about Benioff’s version of Game of Thrones – well, maybe not the Orlando Bloom part, at least not yet – but trust me, that shit is nothing compared to what he did with Troy.
2. ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’
Tom Wolfe’s best seller is a picture perfect takedown of the Reagan ‘80s, savage and cynical, with an absolutely pitch perfect main character, Sherman McCoy, who is the embodiment of all the rotten ideals of that era. Naturally, the movie version was played by Tom Hanks. Wait… what? Indeed, and that’s just the beginning. The equally important role of alcoholic journalist Peter Farrow, meant to be played by Jack Nicholson, was given instead to a young Bruce Willis, which, uh, was an interesting choice. Eventually, the whole movie turned into a sort of weird comedy, stripped of much of its cynicism – which was kind of the whole point – and softened for mass consumption. It was so bad that an entire book, The Devil’s Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood, was written about its failure. Well done.
1. ‘The Scarlet Letter’
Oh, lord. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is the story of a women who struggles with guilt from an adulterous affair, and her attempts to build a life of dignity while faced with oppression and the shaming of her puritanical community. But never mind that shit, because Hollywood’s got a more important story to tell, one that involves sex scenes, Indian attacks and Demi Moore’s boobs hanging out. Maybe all that was in Hawthorne’s first draft, who knows? Never has a movie so completely missed the point of the novel it’s based on, as it becomes a Puritans vs. Indians story with the climactic scene involving an Indian attack during Hester’s hanging, even though the whole point of giving her the scarlet letter was that she’d have to live a long life with it of guilt and shame. But hey, who cares about what makes sense when you’ve got mass scalpings and silicone titties to worry about? That’s just how they rolled in 1642.