Ask the grumpies: When is the movie better than the book?

Leah asks:

When is the movie better than the book?

Rarely.  Bad books aren’t usually made into movies!

#2 Didn’t like the book version of the Princess Bride as much as the movie, but #1 liked the book version more.

I guess there are several versions of Brewster’s Millions that are better than the original source material.  There’s a lot of Gutenberg material out there that has extremely cringey racial/ethnic stereotypes which don’t make it into the movie versions (or at least not into the movie remakes).

Peter Pan is a much better movie– terrifying book.  Similarly Pinocchio.  Fox and the Hound.  That era of Disney picked some pretty awful source material.  Even Mary Poppins is dramatically different (though one can argue which version is better).

We’ve heard that 50 Shades of Grey was a better movie than book, but we’ve got no desire to watch either one(!)

Grumpy Nation, help Leah out, have you seen movies that were better than their books?

11 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: When is the movie better than the book?”

  1. Steph Says:

    Arrival is far better as a movie than as a short story (“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang). The way the story plays with time, and the fact that it revolves around deciphering a visual alien language, is much better suited for the screen than the page.

    Death comes to Pemberley is better as a miniseries than as a book. Granted, I read and disliked the book at least 6-7 years before I watched the miniseries, but the show removed a lot of the weirdly modern elements and was more enjoyable to follow. Also has the benefit of many pretty British actors to gaze at.

  2. Alice Says:

    I think the only times I’ve liked the movie better than the book has been when I saw the movie before I read the book. It’s nothing to do with the quality of the movie itself or the quality of the book, either. I just don’t think it’s possible for me to like a movie after I’ve read the book: a book can carry so much more content and nuance than a movie can, that the movie version will inevitably fall short.

    Plus they always cut critical scenes! And the actors don’t look right or sound right! And that scene wasn’t in the book! And how did they miss the point so thoroughly!

    (Now that I’m out of school, I actually have a firm policy about never watching the movie if I’ve seen the book.)

  3. CG Says:

    Bedknob and Broomstick. I just read the book for the first time and it’s…not that exciting. The movie is a lot of fun, though.

  4. Debbie M Says:

    I like “The Firm” better than the book; it’s very similar but I prefer the ending in the movie.

    My boyfriend likes Emma Thompson’s “Sense and Sensibility” got rid of some of the annoying things in the book while keeping the good parts. Also, he much prefers the 1995 “Persuasion” with Amanda Root over the book, which was published posthumously; he says it fixes it up. He also prefers the movie version of “The Princess Bride” because he hates the ending in the book.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Those are all good takes, I think. Though I recently reread Persuasion and it was way funnier than I had remembered.

      • EB Says:

        Yes, but I have to go with the movie of Persuasion, just because faces and eyes tell so much in this story (much though I loved the book). Also, Ciaran Hinds, woo hoo!

  5. Joseph Says:

    The Bourne Identity is one of the great action movies and the book by Robert Ludlum is hot garbage.


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