When the Movie is Better Than the Book

It doesn’t happen often, but now and then a movie is released with the side-note: based on the acclaimed novel. That’s generally not a good thing. However, there are exceptions. The films Fight Club, Atonement, The Lovely Bones, and possibly the Harry Potter series live up to their paperback predecessors, in my humble opinion. As of Friday, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was added to that list.

I first read the book in 1999 when it was first released, and reread it again last year. Though many of the topics went over my head as a kid, I really connected with the story–that feeling of never fitting in, and then finding a group of people with whom you can be yourself, and those experiences in which you feel infinite and alive.

The film version of the story features Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. Now, thirteen years after publication of the book, its author, Stephen Chbosky, has helped his vision come full circle. Chbosky took the liberty of writing the screenplay, choosing the cast, and directing the movie himself. Since he had full control, Chbosky was able to create a mirror image, moving picture of his novel. The scenes, details, and emotions were all spot on, which made the story even more powerful.

I’ll eagerly read a book if the movie has a stellar plot, but I have hard time seeing movies based on books. I loved The Hunger Games series, and though my sister owns the movie, I haven’t watched it, as I’m worried the movie will ruin the story. Just seeing the trailer triggered thoughts like, “That is not at all how I envisioned it…”

Though I was wary of the movie featuring such well-known actors, at a local book signing Chbosky made an interesting point. Logan Lerman and Emma Watson were both child actor–their lives have been filled with the same socially awkward, don’t quite fit in sentiments as the characters in the book. Thus, it was easy for them to take on the roles of those teenage misfits. For nearly two hours, I forgot that they were famous. They were just Charlie, Sam, and Patrick.

If you happened to have read and enjoyed the book, I would highly recommend the movie. If not, perhaps check out the plot and reviews and then pick up the book in honor of National Banned Books Week or check out the movie some evening when indecision and boredom kick in.

What is your opinion of movies based on books? Do any stand out in your mind as prime examples of either engenderment or butchering of the story?

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