September 25, 2006

Viewer Discretion Advised

Print More

With All the King’s Men receiving tepid reviews at best, it just goes to prove that sometimes great books don’t translate into great movies. Here is my list of some films that were great reads but tended to spoil on the silver screen:

5. The DaVinci Code (2006)
It would have been hard to match the success of Dan Brown’s novel. Still, for a topic so interesting, who could have guessed that such a boring film would result? So slow-paced, Ron Howard’s film couldn’t seem rapid or exciting even if we were watching it strapped to the top of a fighter jet. Of course, points off for Tom Hanks’s bad haircut alone.

4. Great Expectations (1998)
It’s too bad this movie couldn’t click. David Lean’s 1946 adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic is a really great film to watch and provides an effective blueprint for anyone hoping to adapt a novel. Like many other book-to-film flops, this newer version is overloaded with stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, Robert DeNiro, and Anne Bancroft, all of whom create no chemistry. It also didn’t help matters that the film’s creators didn’t understand that the usual goal of a film is to simplify the book, not make it even more dense.

3. Trucks (1997)
Stephen King-based movies are know for either being very good or very bad. (Pet Cemetery 2, anyone?) This most definitively falls into the second category. The basic premise is that various residents stuck at a truck stop are horrified to find that their modes of transportation seem to act as if they are alive and proceed to attack people. This almost falls into the “so bad it’s good” category, especially when the trucks start to talk to each other by honking their horns. Promoted by the very sleek tagline, “U-turn, U-die!” you just may want to do that midway through this film.

2. The Cat in the Hat (2003)
This film was so bad, the Razzies (a mirror of the Oscars which ridicules the year’s worst films) invented a new category just to single it out; Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie. Taking a beloved, simple children’s book, Mike Myers and the Hollywood machine bloated it beyond recognition. When normal comedy couldn’t work, the movie took a turn for the gross jokes, thereby fully isolating itself from the great original book on which it was based. Mike Myers still maintains that he had a great time filming this movie and enjoys watching it. Hmm, better stick to parodying Bond or can you say: “Total box office bomb Baby!”?

1. Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Tom Wolfe’s novel was a crisp, biting look at the moral failure of America in the 1980s. However, when Hollywood got its hands on the novel, things went downhill quickly. With Brian De Palma directing and with stars like Tom Hanks, Melanie Griffith, and Bruce Willis, what could go wrong? With its altered plot and overloaded cast, the film loses its course midway through. In fact, Tom Hanks was so disheartened by the film he didn’t go for a major role until 1992’s A League of Their Own.