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With summer starting (the official start of summer in North America was June 21), there is a lot of talk about the big summer blockbusters that will be hitting movie theatres. Vulture has a great list of 2019 movies based on books. There are a few 2019 book to movie adaptations that have caught my attention (Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and Artemis Fowl).
Books have always (and will always) be source material for movies. But, like most booknerds, I believe that the book is almost always better than the movie. Why? Because of the amount of depth you can go into in the pages of a book that gets skimmed over or completely left out of the movie version. Books and movies both tell stories, but they are inherently different media, and thus are able to do different things.
That being said, I love going to movies that are based on books. I try to read the book before I see the movie version. I want to see the author’s full vision before I see someone else’s interpretation. And then, I compare and contrast them. What did I like more in the book version? What did I like more in the movie version? What worked in the movie? What didn’t?
So, in anticipation of a summer and fall of book movies, here are my thoughts on the last few book to movie adaptations I watched.
- To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
- Crazy Rich Asians
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
After To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before came out on Netflix, I waited to watch. I saw all the squeeing online about Peter Kavinsky and about Lara Jean’s outfits and overall style. I was intrigued. But I didn’t press play. Not yet. I had to read the book first.
I’d never read any of Jenny Han’s books before. I’d seen her books on social media and in various bookish lists and at the bookstore. But there were (and are) so many other books on my TBR (to-be-read list) that I didn’t bother adding them.
And then the Netflix movie came out.
And then I saw all the clamour over it.
And then I saw a copy of the book on a featured stand right next to my library check out.
So I grabbed it and added it to my stack of holds to check out. I brought it home. I read it over the course of a week.
And then I watched the movie.
How do the book and movie compare?
The whole premise of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before if you don’t know, is that Lara Jean has written love letters to each of her crushes over her life. The letters all get mailed without her knowledge and it opens up a huge kerfuffle for Lara Jean as each of those boys awkwardly confronts her about it. To try and deal with the situation, she and a boy at school agree to fake date…and you can imagine how that goes.
In the book…I didn’t really like Peter. Please don’t hate me! He just seemed like the pompous jerks I knew in high school. It felt like he was using Lara Jean (although, yes to be fair she was using him too). He was taking advantage of her, though. And he didn’t seem to be learning from his mistakes. Rather, he seemed to be enjoying them. He had a few redeemable moments, but I still didn’t like him.
I liked Peter more in the movie… by the end. But again, I didn’t fall in love with him like so many others. For most of the movie, it seemed like he was a jerk.
The book and movie definitely seemed to go well together. The sisterly camaraderie was fantastic, the movie tried to do justice to Lara Jean’s biracial identity, and the movie hit on a lot of the same sweet and funny moments of the book. I was also pleased how the movie didn’t shy away from the less cute parts of high school (like rumours about students sleeping around and such).
Some characters who had significant roles in the book were a little left out in the movie, specifically Josh (Lara Jean’s neighbour and her sister Margot’s boyfriend) and Chris (Lara Jean’s best friend). I understand that movies need to trim things down, but I missed these characters and what they brought to the book.
All in all, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a pretty good movie. The movie version definitely leans more strongly on the teen romance category than the book which deals a lot more with family and coming of age dynamics.
While there are more books in this series, they’re not high on my TBR.
Crazy Rich Asians
This movie was one of of the few times where I watched the film before reading the book. And I am so glad I did!
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan tells the story of Rachel Chu’s experience going to Singapore for the summer to meet her boyfriend’s family and attend his best friend’s wedding. To Rachel’s surprise, her boyfriend Nicholas Young is a member of one of the richest families in Singapore. They’re not just rich, they’re crazy rich. And along with their wealth, they have a heavy dose of prejudice for the way they think things should be.
How do the book and movie compare?
This movie is glamorous and gorgeous. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And when I finally read the book, I was so happy to have had the slightly simplified version of the movie to guide me. You see, the book is intense. It has footnotes. (I tried listening to it on audio and realized very quickly that was not the right format for me.) Kevin Kwan has written the book in such a way as to educate the non-Asian reader about some of the language and tradition of large Asian families. Footnotes give info about slang terms or customs, and about the extensive family trees of the interconnected families who fill the giant character list of the book.
The book took me a while to get into. It is a little more intense – both in language and in character – than a lot of the romance and YA I’ve been reading. But once I got into it, I loved it. Crazy Rich Asians is a book full of details and intriguing characters and situations. The movie is great, but simplifies a lot of the story. The book is as crazy rich and detailed as the Young family.
I just picked up the second book in the series from my library! I’m stoked to see what happens next with Rachel and Nicholas.
I first read Dumplin’ years ago. I got it from my library. Then I added it to my wish list and got it as a Christmas gift. I’ve read it a few times now.
Dumplin’ is about Willowdean Dixon, a teen girl in small town Texas who has the unfortunate luck to be the fat daughter of a skinny former beauty queen. Willowdean’s mom now runs the town beauty pageant. And calls her daughter by the unfortunate nickname Dumplin’. But Willowdean is done with the fat-shaming. She decides to get back at everyone by entering the town beauty pageant. A group of other not-so-typical beauty queens join in.
How do the book and movie compare?
This was another of those movies where they had to severely limit what was included in the movie. And while I quite enjoyed the movie (and author Julie Murphy’s cameo at the end), I was a little sad about how they focused so much on one part of the story and skimmed over one of my favourite parts.
In both the book and the movie, a lot of emphasis is placed on Willowdean’s friendship with her best friend Ellen and on the group of unlikely beauty queens who work together to figure out how to navigate the beauty pageant world. This was all fantastic. It is empowering and wonderful. Body positivity, female friendship, girls helping girls. I loved it. In the book, Willowdean gets the extra boost of a really sweet and quirky romantic relationship. I felt like that part was severely skimmed over in the movie. I’m glad they didn’t turn the whole movie into a romance, but I missed seeing some of my favourite Willowdean and Bo scenes comes to life.
Dumplin’ is such a fun, empowering movie. It’s full of great one-liners, amazing drag queens, Dolly Parton songs, and female friendship. I still like the book better. But when I need a quick two-hour boost for my mood, Dumplin’ is the perfect movie to put on.
Have you seen any of these book to movie adaptations? What did you think?
What’s your favourite or least favourite book to movie adaptation?
Tell me in the comments.