Movies with little to do with the book

Jim Harrison was mentioned in another thread, and up through the grey matter bubbled a recollection of the movie Wolf, a travesty of a film ostensibly inspired by JH’s book of the same name.

What is your vote for the movie that bears the least resemblance to the book on which it was supposedly based?

I don’t know about “the least resemblance,” but as soon as I read the title of this thread, the name Dune jumped to my mind. Although it doesn’t necessarily take too many liberties, it does omit about 90% of the story. It felt as though they had taken the first 10 pages, and the last 10 pages, and made a movie out of it.

Similarly, The Name of the Rose is a far cry from Eco’s book, but at least it was mildly entertaining. I hated the movie version of Dune.

Forest Gump. And thank God for that. IMO, the movie was great and the book was abysmal.

The only thing the two seem to have in common is the character’s names and they both sort of dealt with the Vietnam War and shrimp. Other than that, there really is no comparison.

Oh, oh, me, me! I know, I know!

It’s The Crow! The people who worked on the movie gave it a depth and pathos that was entirely lacking in the original, IMO. The movie is much better and more cohesive.

All versions of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, although I will give Disney kudos for fine casting and a killer Nautilus design.

Wasn’t ‘Instinct’ supposedly based on ‘Ishmael’? My sister got me to read ‘Ishmael’ and I can’t see any resemblance between it and the commercials I saw for ‘Instinct’.

The movie ‘The Iron Giant’ is VERY different from the book, which I haven’t read. Though I’ll say that I love the movie and every time I’ve considered getting the book I flipped through it and it didn’t seem that interesting.

Like making a major character out of a cop whose only role in the book was to puke his guts out in the gutter? :slight_smile:

Brandon Lee was perfectly cast, and the movie, while upholding the major themes of the book, added a great deal to the story. The Crow is one of the only examples, in my mind, of a movie that was signifcantly better than the source material. As for the loathesome goody-goody TV series, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, the less said the better.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, whether you think of Starship Troopers was a clever satire or not, it made no sense without the powered armor. Let’s take on a superior alien force on their home turf with Vietnam-era military hardware and no air support! Yeah! That’ll work!

Now, just to make a tidy contrast to the Crow, I’ll recommend Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles, which is a cgi cartoon, has the beginnings of powered-suit technology, and is not half bad.

Well this isn’t the LEAST resemblance, but I just read Starship Troopers. The movie (IMO) was loosely based on the book.

*** SPOILERS ***

The only things similar:

  1. The names. John Rico, Carmen Ibanez, Sgt. Zim, Mr. Dubois, a few others.

  2. There are bugs. Though they’re completely different, except that they resemble arachnids.

  3. A few events. Attack on Klendathu where the M.I. is severely whipped. Rico in Boot Camp (though it’s totally different). Destruction of Buenos Aries (though only Rico’s Mom is killed in the book). Capture of Brain bug by Sgt. Zim (Under Rico’s command as 3rd Lieutenant in the book).

Theres a whole bunch of things that happen in the book that are totally different in the movie. Pick it up if you’re interested. The book is only like 250 pages, I read through it in two days.

It’s fitting that someone named Dinsdale started this thread, since the Demi Moore Scarlet Letter is certainly an obvious candidate! (I think the credits actually said “freely adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Freely and crappily…)

The most recent version of The Man in the Iron Mask (i.e. the one with Leo DiCaprio) wasn’t much like the original, either, apart from the characters’ names (plus the ending has a very unusual take on French history).

Dune has already been discussed so I will move on to others.

The movie Simon Birch versus the excellent novel A Prayer for Owen Meany

I read somewhere that because of the extensive changes made, they even changed the main character’s name, which in turn became the new title of the movie. The changes were so radical that it doesn’t even say in the credits “Based on the Novel by…”, but IIRC it just said “Inspired by the Novel…”.

What a disappointment that movie was. They had access to one of the greatest stories I’ve ever read, and they botched their chance to bring it to the silver screen. They absolutely sanitized the story. Cowards.

Another candidate for voting is the book Memoirs of an Invisible Man by H.F. Saint and the movie version of the same name. Great book, but the movie made so many compromises, especially the ending, that I had nothing but contempt for it when it was over. Even the Jenkins character was markedly different. In the book he was just some guy doing his job. In the movie, played by Sam Neill, Jenkins was turned into a sneering jerk.

I was going to vote for Memoirs of An Invisible Man too. The book was astonishingly good, and the movie with Chevy Chase was awful. It was not the book.

If you saw the ridiculous movie, try reading the book by H.P. Saint.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

These are books that shouldn’t have been made into movies because they are unfilmable. OFOtCN is told from inside the cheif’s head. Introspective works like that don’t translate to a visual medium. ECGtB is Tom Robbins, a novelist who is to be appreciated mostly for his linguistic hijinks and his philisophical observations as omniscient third person narrator (or SECOND person, talking directly to his character. In “Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas”, he did it for the whole damn book). Whether you are in the camp that claims Tom Robbins holds the key to the universe, or the camp that claims he spouts a lot of hippy / new-age claptrap, you simply can’t film it.

I deliberately avoided seeing it, but I suspect “Starship Troopers” falls into this category. Without the musings on the concepts of duty and the nature of society that go on inside Heinlein’s protaganist’s head, we are left with simply a galactic shoot 'em up.


We can come up with a LOT in this category. Books or series that are too bloody long for the screen. They keep making hash out of a lot of works because Hollywood seems unable to accept that, while there is no fixed ratio, a movie is more roughly equivalent to a novella or short novel than an epic. John Ford once commented on this, claiming that movies should be made from short stories and expanded. As an example, the Bogart version of “The Big Sleep” follows the Chandler novel so exactly that you can follow along in the book while watching the movie (try it sometime - big sections of dialogue are lifted verbatim to the screen). The Chandler book is a shortish novel, as mystery writing typically was in Chandler’s day.

Damnation Alley

Another category. Should have made a GREAT movie, if they’d have just stuck to visualizing what Zelazny wrote. But they had turn a post-apocalyptic story about the last surviving Hell’s Angel into a story about a character who was at least 60 percent boy scout. The character was written much closer to Kurt Russell’s character in “Escape From New York”. He probably would have been a better choice than Jan-Michael Vincent, although I’m willing to accept that Vincent could have played Hell Tanner well with a good script.

I’d just like to say that if you can get your hands on a copy of the Dune miniseries that recently aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, it is definitely worth watching. Much better than the theatrical movie, in my opinion. It was much closer to the book, incorporated way more of the plot, and was just in general a well-acted, well-thought-out film. I was able to rent it from the local video store.

As for the OP, I nominate Lawnmower Man, which shares nothing but a title with Stephen King’s (not-so-good, in my opinion) short story.

MsWhatsIt beat me to The Lawnmower Man by ten minutes.


THe one that annoys me most is the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. Why did they have to diverge from the original story to give it a happy ending. Oh, yeah, I know to make more $$$.
I read the original story as a child and thought it was beautiful. I still do. Changing the ending was a crime in my eyes.

I try to see movies made from books before I read the book (if I haven’t read it already) so that I can try to judge each on its own merits. My criteria for liking movies based on books is whether they do an interesting job of telling the story, cast the characters well, and make me want to read the book (again, if I’ve already read it).

I don’t expect films to reproduce the book exactly - it’s impossible to do in the time allotted, and sometimes just leads to bad filmmaking. You have to change a story a great deal sometimes to transform it from printed page, descriptions, and internal monologues of characters into a dramatic production.

That said, I think the English Patient did a fabulous job of pulling the soul out of the book and putting it on screen, but I wish Kip had had a larger role in the film instead of being relegated to “interestingly ethnic love interest.” I understand why it didn’t work in the film.

I, Claudius is another example - the book is entirely a first person description of events, and the filmmakers did a wonderful job of creating dialogue and characters out of the somewhat dry narrative.

“The Lost World”

The only thing the movie had in common with it was the trailer scene and even that was different. Yeah, a few scenes from JP were used in the movie of “Lost World” but still.


[li]InGen does not fly in in the book, and there’s no big corporation vs. the little guy theme. (Which was kind of cool actually.)[/li]
[li]Way more science in the book.[/li]
[li]No characters of Levine or Thorne in the movie and Eddie Carr and Sarah Harding are both really different. Plus no Nick Van Owen in the book.[/li]
[li]Two computer savvy kids in the book, and in book, Kelly is neither black nor Ian’s daughter.[/li]
[li]Trailer scene- Sarah ends up saving Ian, in movie she nearly falls to her death.[/li]
[*]At the end of the book, they all leave, end of movie the T-Rex ends up on a mad rampage throughout San Diego. :slight_smile: (Possibly the biggest difference.)

Fever Pitch. The book, by Nick Hornby, is a memoir of his lifetime support for Arsenal FC. It’s completely (AFAIK) nonfiction, just a collection of memories, and absolutely wonderful reading for football fans (even if you fucking hate Arsenal, as I do).

The film on the other hand is a light comedy-romance about an Arsenal fanatic and the (initially) football-hating woman he falls in love with. To say it was even loosely based on the book would be an overstatement.

I loved Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner,” and after seeing it, I read Philip Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, the novel it was based on.

The book was great, too- but the book and the film had very little in common, apart from the hero’s name.

As an addendum to Zoggie’s post, Jurassic Park was a major letdown for me. I read the book, I figured it would make an excellent movie. The movie, while featuring the same characters (well, the same names, anyway), completely changed everything. The roles of the two kids were reversed; Hammond was made out to be a nice guy; Malcolm lives; Gennaro doesn’t, Muldoon doesn’t (at least, I think he lived in the book…it’s been a while); Grant and Sattler have a relationship, and so on. It went from being a scary tale of genetic research gone awry to a not-even-remotely scary tale of people being chased around by dinosaurs.

As for JP2, I’m actually glad it was different from the book - the book sucked. The movie sucked a bit too, but at least it was a different kind of suck.