The dreaded book adaptation to film. Now, theoretically no movie will ever be able to top the originally written word, but we all hold out hope that the visual will merge with our imagination. Or at least come close.
Today’s book to movie critqiue is One For the Money, it did a lot of things right. The movie had a great cast. Normally casting is a real sore point. I, like others have very particular ideas about character representatives. I am usually disappointed. This time I think the casting director should get an oscar. Katherine Heigl really embodies the the crazy in a lovable way Stephanie Plum. Jason O’Mara has the rough sexy narc look and does pissed off really well. And the only other person who could have done Grandma Mazur justice is Betty White. But really no one can come close to holding a candle next to Betty White.
Settings. Sets can be tricky. Face it sometimes an author creates such a vivid world that all the overlooked little details just stick out like a sore thumb. Again the movie did a good job with the sets and locations, though they didn’t have that infamous fire escape. Morelli’s apartment was a much more swanky bachelor pad than I had imagined with it’s modern concrete industrial look. Stephanie’s apartment looked how I thought it would but was configured differently than the layout in my mind. The Plum house wasn’t an attached row house and the porch seemed too small, more of a stoop. But the look and the feel was there.
The big glaring ugly elephant in the film was the writing. It wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t capture all the lovable humor and round about mystery of the book. All adaptations have to make concessions and I have to admit I loved the naked man in Morelli’s car bit, it was a nice way to save time. But I didn’t like a lot of the changes in the movie, I understand why it was done, it’s just that the changes made things feel forced and rushed. Plus the ending just wasn’t as good as Evanovich’s ending.
All the changes and time savers really hurt the love story. The Plum books aren’t the traditional adult romance. I think of it more like YA fiction where the romance is slow building. These characters have history along with getting to know each other in a war of the Roses type of way. While the film does a decent job in displaying the tension filled romantic animosity between Steph and Joe, you miss out on the familiar commonality between them. They come from the same place grew up knowing all of each other’s business. Some of their best moments comes from that shared history.
Unfortunately I think in this case the book ruined the movie for me. I don’t think it was a bad movie or even a bad adaptation. I recently finished reading the third book and with each installment I fall a little deeper in love with the characters, become more acquainted with world, and attuned with the writing. So I think that I would have loved the movie more if I hadn’t read the book first.