Finding a movie that is better than the book is rare. It’s like finding a four leaf clover or a pit bull who actually understands that they’re not a 5lb lap dog. As you know, I’m a book junkie. I love reading. And nothing is more terrifying than seeing a book you love turned into a movie. The uncertainty of it all makes my stomach churn. You slowly watch the casting happen and curse Hollywood for casting people that don’t fit the images you’ve concocted in your own head. Ultimately, you go see it in theaters, with your heart wrapped up in doubts in an attempt to protect it from the inevitable heartbreak. The lights come up and you slowly die. We’ve all been there. We all collectively experienced it after watching Percy Jackson in theaters. It’s a trauma we all share.
But once in a blue moon, there are books that surpassed by their movie adaptations. The casting gods get involved to ensure that the perfect cast is on board. The script writer ACTUALLY reads the book (okay maybe not in my last one). Everyone knows that there is a high standard. And it pays off. Sometimes. In my list, I’m only including ones I’ve read myself. I’m sure there’s more I’m missing, so leave your favorite “Movie was better than the book” movie in the comments below!
The Virgin Suicides
This movie is so beautifully executed. Don’t get me wrong, the book is wonderful and I did enjoy it – the movie just BARELY beat out the book for me. The casting was so perfect. Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Lisbon is probably one of the best castings I’ve ever seen and I’m still terrified of that woman. She could play the kindest, most love-able character in a movie and I’d still cringe away from her. In fact, the entire Lisbon family is so well cast and they seemed like actual sisters instead of strangers playing sisters. They looked similar enough, acted as if they were raised in the same psychotic household, and heir relationships felt so real. Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely read the book! But make sure you follow it up by watching (or re-watching) the movie.
This soundtrack is also fantastic.
The Silence of the Lambs
This one really surprised me. Again, this is made possible by a perfect cast. I picked up the book due to the love of the movie and I was so disappointed. It was entertaining – definitely worth reading for a big fan of the movie but the movie just brought so much of it alive and made it 10x creepier. Being that this is one of my top favorite movies (and is probably responsible for my love of horror/thriller movies), I might have been expecting too much from the book. There were a few scenes from the book that I wish had gone into the movie but overall, if I had read the book first, I would have been very happy with the screen adaptation.
Interview with the Vampire
Please don’t hate me.
We all know the story. Anne Rice was absolutely beside herself with anger when Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat. I get it. Before this, Cruise was just a hot guy in movies. He hadn’t really shown us a lot of range and Lestat is a very complex character. Rice later stated that she ended up writing him a letter, expressing how wrong she was because he did a wonderful job. I watched this movie during my “Tom Cruise” phase. I think I was around 11 and I was just getting into ~dark~ and ~gothic~ things and it absolutely set in motion my love for all things vampire. This movie also kick-started my “Brad Pitt” phase (sorry, Tom), made me want to follow everything Kristen Dunst does (she can almost do no wrong), and led me directly to my local bookstore to get the book. I’m sorry… I couldn’t get through this. I tried picking it up 3 separate times and I put it down all 3 times. I made it about half way through each time and just couldn’t keep going. I don’t know what it was that made me continually put it down, but I did. Part of me wants to try the audiobook or SOMETHING. There’s so much inside me that wants to read this damn book but I just can’t.
Bridget Jones Diary
This is the only one on the list where I had actually read the book before seeing the movie. I wasn’t really avoiding the movie, I just didn’t care to watch it. Then one day, maybe like 15 years ago, I was at a library book sale where most books were only a $1 or some were even 25 cents. I saw this book, flipped through it and figured that for $1, I’ll give it a go. I ended up really enjoying the book and it intrigued me enough to watch the movie. Which is just fantastic! Although, any time I think about the movie, I remember that Renee Zellweger had to gain 35lbs so she could “look like an average woman”, which always makes me roll my eyes.
I think that a part of my soul died after reading this book. I base a huge chunk of my personality off of my love for this movie. A HUGE chunk. I can probably recite the entire movie, word for word, whenever I wanted. Neat party trick, huh? One day, I found the book at a used bookstore and figured, why not? It’s one of the best movies of all time, might as well read the book!
If you haven’t, don’t. I don’t even know how someone read that book and was able to create the magic that is the movie. It was awful. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. I don’t know if it would have been a good book if I had read it before watching the movie or not. All I know is that that book is VASTLY different than the movie and I’m so happy they took as many liberties as they did for the movie.
I’ve been obsessively listening to this soundtrack the last few weeks. Can someone please get this made on vinyl?
These were mentions that I was given by friends, but I can’t confirm since I haven’t read the book. So please don’t come for me if you disagree.
- Lord of the Rings
- High Fidelity
- Forrest Gump
- Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
- Fight Club (Even the author of the book said the movie put his book to shame – it’s why I’ve never picked up the book)