It was a FAIL. Big time.
They totally changed the ending, a lot of the plot, cut out key characters, and prevented other characters the opportunity to be developed into the hilarious comic relief they are. I'm not going to get into it further (I could go all night), but suffice it to say I was very disappointed in what Hollywood did with the book.
And unfortunately, this isn't the first time that I've been thoroughly disappointed by the movie version of a beloved novel. Parts of the Harry Potter series (particularly the ending of the Half-Blood Prince movie) were just awful. The Golden Compass was a phenomenal book - too bad they totally ruined it with that joke of a movie. Part of what makes Jodi Picoult books powerful are her twist endings, but that all changed with the ending to My Sister's Keeper, the movie. And Stuart Little? I'm sorry, but I don't remember Stuart looking like this...or driving a convertible...or wearing Converse:
What upsets me the most about all this, though, isn't that creative liberties are taken. I even understand that. When you're working with a novel that's 400 pages or more, and you have to get it down to two hours, some side plots and minor characters have to go. But what I don't understand is when the entire ending of the original work is changed, or when the plot is so distorted that it barely resembles the original work in the first place. It just breaks my heart that kids think Stuart was a skateboard-riding, meatloaf eating mouse, or that Matilda's powers were actually magic and didn't just come about because she was smart but not being challenged.
Maybe these movies, changed plots or not, are getting people to pick up the books. Maybe they're not. But if a writer/director/producer/film studio sees enough merit in a book to adapt it to the screen, shouldn't they want to leave the major plot points alone? It truly makes me worry for the future movies for books I love (don't get me started on the trailer for The Lightning Thief). What's going to happen to Katniss and Panem when The Hunger Games is adapted? I have high hopes for that one with Suzanne Collins at the script-writing helm, but who knows.
I will admit that one of my favorite movies ever, The Notebook, was way better as a movie than as a book. There was more character development, and I liked the ending a lot better. So I guess Hollywood gets it right sometimes.
Oh, and a note on movie tie-in editions, because I said I would mention them, and then the post went in another direction (aka it became me ranting for several paragraphs). I don't really like them. I understand that it's all marketing, and I suppose it's smart. But when it's time for my amazing novel to be adapted to the big-screen, I hope that I can go the way of J.K. Rowling and say that I want to keep the books and movies separate. (Because, for all my ranting, I will absolutely not turn down a good movie deal. I could see my novel! IN THEATERS!!! And maybe even meet Johnny Depp or George Clooney...which reminds me, I need to write some devastatingly handsome middle-aged men into my MS.)
What do you think about film adaptations of novels? Does it bother you as much as it bothers me when they deviate from the original plot, or do I just need to shut the heck up? What's the best one you've seen? The worst? Any you're looking forward to? Will you let your film be adapted, when the time comes? And when the heck is it going to warm up in my house, anyway???