I have always founds it magical to read a book and then watch its transformation into either a TV mini-series or a movie. Yet, if the transition is for a book I’ve really enjoyed, the experience always comes with a little trepidation. In fact, I flat-out refused to watch Tom Cruise’s version of Jack Reacher because there is nothing in Tom Cruise’s looks or demeanor that says 6’4″ bad-ass soldier who’s built like a tank. In the past few months, I’ve read The Hating Game (my review) and Pieces of Her (no review, but I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads). Subsequently I’ve watched the entire first season of Reacher (which I read in 2011 and strangely only gave it 3 stars (I wonder why?)), watched The Hating Game and have tried to get through Pieces of Her. How did the movie/TV adaptations compare to the books? Read on.
Pieces of Her
Of the three, Pieces of Her is the most problematic if you’re a fan of the book. Why? Because instead of being a story about Andrea Oliver’s attempts to discover who her mother, Laura, really is as well as staying alive because bad guys are chasing her, it’s now a story mostly about modern-day Laura with infrequent flashbacks to her turbulent past. The writers/producers decided to make it a star vehicle for Toni Collette, giving her far more screen time (probably 90%) than what would have been if they’d followed the story in Karin Slaughter’s novel.
Despite the fact that Slaughter wrote a very logical novel, the writers of the series decided to toss in bits that just aren’t logical or credible. What US Senator would immediately accept a young woman showing up out of nowhere as his long-lost niece without going through all kinds of background checks, etc.? That defied credibility but supposedly made for a good tangent in the show. Presumably, Andrea being on the run, alone, just wasn’t dramatically viable (my observation, although I think it would have).
I haven’t finished the miniseries yet. Some of it has verged on soap opera-style melodrama rather than the thriller that the novel was and has tested my patience. It’s quite possible that I’m out of practice in watching TV and don’t find filler palatable.
I would almost suggest that if you find yourself intrigued by the mini-series, watch it first without reading the book. A friend who was watching without having read the book, enjoyed the episodes far more than I did, although also agreed that the melodrama was unwelcome. I don’t believe that there is any way (unless you’re a huge Toni Collette fan) that you’ll enjoy the series as much as the book and may even find yourself disappointed–I certainly was.
If a TV miniseries about a good intentioned stranger coming to town following the path of a blues singer and then shooting up bad guys a well as solving a mystery can be fun, Reacher was. Unlike Tom Cruise, Alan Ritchson looks every bit of Jack Reacher. Although his acting initially reminded me a tad of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, he found his groove and really embodied the character. The supporting cast was also excellent. It was fun to watch Reacher’s observation skills in action as well as his fighting ability. The action was almost non-stop and made every episode interesting. Great viewing! And, yes, I very much thought the series did justice by Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher novel, The Killing Floor. I am looking forward to the next installment!
The Hating Game
If you read my review, you know I loved The Hating Game. It was the best rom-com I’d read in a while, hitting all of the right notes. When I saw a trailer that included the elevator scene, which was both a very funny and a very sexy scene, I was disappointed that some of the one-liners had been dropped. However, when I saw the film, it didn’t matter. (Really, I couldn’t remember what the one-liners were that had been dropped.)
Lucy Hale was perfect in the role of Lucy (she certainly didn’t have to worry about not responding to her name 😉 ) and Austin Stowell, who looked like a smash up of Dennis Quaid and Pierce Brosnan, was also excellent, although he sometimes seemed a little wooden. They made a cute couple.
I really enjoyed watching the movie and felt that it did justice to the book. Both are a laugh and a definite pick-me-up. A great date movie or fun one to watch on your own.
Have you read the books? Seen the shows? What do you think?