Friday, June 17, 2011

Stick With The Book!

I read recently that a movie based on a popular childrens' book of long ago is soon to be released. I remembered how much kids loved the story of Mr. Popper's Penguins written by Richard and Florence Atwater. The book was published in 1938 and remained popular for many years. My first thought about the movie was that kids would love it and I'd have to tell my daughter to take our two youngest grandchildren to see it.

All that changed when I read a review of the movie this morning. Our Kansas City newspaper awarded it with only two stars. Another review I read online says that it is "loosely" based on the book of the same name. Click the link to read the full piece. Then read the review of the book to see the difference between book and movie. I have not actually seen the movie, but after reading about it, I have no desire to do so.

Which brings me to my point for today. Why in the world do those who make movies take an extremely successful and long-lasting book into their hands and then change it considerably? All too often, the radically altered story in the movie doesn't measure up to the original.

Maybe you would be better off finding a copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins at Amazon or your favorite bookstore. It would probably be cheaper than taking kids to see the movie, and I have a feeling they might enjoy it more, as well. When it comes to a choice between a movie and a book, I'll choose the book every time. How about you?


  1. I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. As much as I love original books and dislike when movies change things, it's a different medium. When making a movie, it's often impractical to follow the plot of a book word for word (unless you're BBC and you make 6-hour TV movies). It's in the nature of adaptation to, well, adapt some things. There's no reason you can't enjoy the movie and the book as separate things.

    Then there's the matter of reviews. Some people write bad reviews because they're film snobs, they have different tastes, or other reasons. I've read glowing reviews of movies I've hated, and terrible reviews of movies I've liked. Nowadays, I tend to ignore reviews and ask a friend's opinion instead. With this movie, I would take reviews with a grain of salt anyway just because the starring actor is Jim Carrey. For some reason, people either love or hate him.

  2. Glad you commented, Laura, and I do agree with some of the things you said. You're right about some writing bad reviews, but both that I read were unfavorable. My husband and I always laugh at the TV shows the critics hate, because they are often ones we both like!

    I think, for me, it all boils down to loving a book and hating to see it changed. This generation of kids might love the movie since they've never read the book. Your points are well made.