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Top 10 Books That Should've NEVER Been Made Into Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Ezuma
In these cases, the book is always better than the movie. We’ll be taking a look at the Top 10 Books That Should Never Have Been Made Into Movies.For this list, we’re looking at books that either shouldn’t be told on-screen at all or stories where film wasn’t the best medium to adapt it to.
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Top 10 Books That Should Never Have Been Made Into Movies

In these cases, the book is always better than the movie. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Books That Should Never Have Been Made Into Movies.

For this list, we’re looking at books that either shouldn’t be told on-screen at all or stories where film wasn’t the best medium to adapt it to.

#10: “Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2001) & “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan” (2002)
By: Sophie Kinsella

We all love a good rom-com, but if the wit and cleverness of the writing can’t be executed in the script, then what’s the point of making it into a movie? That’s the question we were all asking ourselves after sitting through the 2009 Isla Fisher film version of “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. The movie was just a little too silly and doesn’t convey how smart the first two books of the “Shopaholic” series could be when it came to discussing consumerism, all while still being hilarious. The movie just felt dumbed down and because of that, it’s best just to read Sophie Kinsella’s books.

#9: “The Da Vinci Code” (2003)
By: Dan Brown

As a novel, “The Da Vinci Code” was a massive success among readers since it made the search for the Holy Grail into a gripping thriller. The movie tried to capture the spark of the novel, but somewhere along the way it fell flat, despite consistently incredible actors Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen at the center of the story. The book gave complex, sometimes dark, motivations to some of its characters that the movie left out and the storytelling felt too simplistic yet scattered, losing all the fun of mystery solving that the book held.

#8: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979)
By: Douglas Adams

In a book like this sci-fi classic, most of the fun of the reading experience comes from Douglas Adams’ tangents and one-offs that explore passages from the titular book within a book. This is exactly why the story doesn’t lend itself to successful movie adaptation. The 2005 version tried to capture the quirk of the book but in reality, many things from the story were left out for more streamlined storytelling. While the screenwriters tried to keep some of the magic of Adams’ original dialogue, it felt pretty clunky and confusing for viewers who weren’t familiar with the source material. If the movie can’t add anything to the story, it’s best to simply leave it to the page.

#7: “Beloved” (1987)
By: Toni Morrison

A truly unique book, “Beloved” is part slave story, part ghost story and way too psychological to be captured on-screen. It tells the story of Sethe, a runaway slave who is haunted by a ghost and meets a reincarnated version of the daughter she killed in order to save her from a life of slavery. Morrison’s book explores her psychology while playing with the reader’s expectation of how the story will unfold. The 1998 Oprah adaptation just felt like it was telling the story’s plot without really showing how harrowing the events of the book were for the main character. Audiences could see through this and it was a box-office bomb.

#6: “The Lovely Bones” (2002)
By: Alice Sebold

While there’s nothing inherently too complex about the story’s plot, the movie version of “The Lovely Bones” just felt…off. The book tells the story of Susie Salmon, a young girl who is murdered and watches her family deal with her death and discover who her killer was while she’s stuck in the “In-Between”. Even with strong performances from Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci, the movie jumped back and forth between being too dark and overly sentimental as Susie’s family figure out what happened to her. And while the depiction of the “In-Between” felt powerful in the book, it looked kind of silly in the movie.

#5: “Watchmen” (1986-87)
By: Alan Moore

Is it too pretentious to say that the story of “Watchmen” is too complex to be made into a movie? Regardless... it’s true. While most superhero movies have a more simple story with a clear good guy and bad guy dynamic, this graphic novel features more ambiguous characters and a satirical take on the whole superhero genre. While the movie tried to cram all that into its story, it really seemed to focus on style over substance, which made it lose the depth of the original plot. Creator Alan Moore feels the same, and famously said that he had no intention of seeing the film.

#4: “Cloud Atlas” (2004)
By: David Mitchell

Author David Mitchell is an experimental writer known for breaking conventions in his compelling stories. This is exactly what he did with “Cloud Atlas,” a book of six interconnected stories that span a length of time and deal with deeper themes like reincarnation. It’s a beautiful story but one that makes little sense on-screen. The movie felt nonsensical with a hard to follow plot. It was jarring to jump from setting to setting, past to present. The Wachowskis co-directed the film with Tom Tykwer, and while it looked great and had an absolutely stacked ensemble cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent, it’s a story better suited for a book.

#3: “The Dark Tower” series (1982-2012)
By: Stephen King

How do you take a series of eight books and condense them into a 95-minute movie? The correct answer is...you don’t. But that’s exactly what the 2017 movie attempted to accomplish. Talks of adapting the books have been in the works for years, and directors J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard tried to take a stab at it before it eventually went to the lesser-known Nikolaj Arcel. It seems like the studio would have gotten the hint that maybe there’s too much story for a movie. But they didn’t, and instead fans of the books were given something completely different from the source material, while people new to the series couldn’t understand the story. It was also a waste of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey’s talent.

#2: “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” (2006)
By: Elizabeth Gilbert

While memoirs can sometimes make for interesting on-screen stories, most of the time they’re too anecdotal and don’t really have much of a linear story. This is perfectly fine for a book, but the exact opposite of what you want in a film. They tried to give the 2010 Julia Roberts version a compelling narrative but honestly, it was just boring to watch a woman eat food and pray, no matter how good of an actor Roberts is. The strength of Elizabeth Gilbert’s story is how internal her journey was, and how connected readers felt to her on the page. That connection was missing and made for a movie that didn’t amount to much.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“World War Z” (2013)
By: Max Brooks

“Never Let Me Go” (2005)
By: Kazuo Ishiguro

“Inherent Vice” (2009)
By: Thomas Pynchon

#1: “The Great Gatsby” (1925)
By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Despite multiple valiant attempts, the true magic of this classic novel has never been fully captured on-screen. Particularly in the 1974 and 2013 adaptations of the book, the symbolism and themes of loneliness never seem to be adequately explored in the movies. Instead, both versions, particularly the Baz Luhrmann picture, get caught up in the excesses of the glamor of the world without thoroughly exploring the darker underside. In other words: both versions have no heart. And if heavyweight actors like Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Carey Mulligan can’t bring out the characters’ nuances, it’s safe to say no one can. Leave this one to required reading in high school English.


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