Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book to Movie 1. The Spectacular Now

This is a new little series on this blog, where I read a book and watch the movie based on it, then review, compare, and contrast! First up is The Spectacular Now.


Book: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 294
Published: November 1st, 2008

Synopsis: SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.
Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

“'Nothing lasts,' she says, and there's a little crack in her voice. 'You think it's going to. You think, 'Here's something I can hold on to,' but it always slips away.'"

I rated this book a 4.5, but since we have to round to whole numbers I rounded down to a 4. I loved this book. It was one of those books you just want to finish, and just spend hours without even knowing hours are going by getting wrapped up in it. You know you like a book when you start talking out loud to it, as though that will will the book into conforming to your wishes. I loved the characters and the story, and I liked how the whole thing felt real. So often YA contemporary books are ruined because something absolutely ridiculous happens, but all the characters and events in The Spectacular now felt so life-like.

I loved the relationship between Seller and Aimee. It was just so cute, but it had problems. Seller is clearly a terrible influence on Aimee, but at the same time you see Aimee let loose for the first time in her life. I loved every single one of Setter's fun stories, and give the book a thumbs-up. As for the ending, well, how could it have ended any other way?

Movie: The Spectacular Now
Director: James Ponsoldt
Run Time: 1h 40m
Release Date: September 13th, 2013
Stars: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley
Rated: R

Synopsis: A hard-partying high school senior's philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical "nice girl."

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 Spectacular Now gif, Shaliene Woodley gif

The main difference between the movie and the book was how I felt about the main romance between Sutter and Aimee. Don't get me wrong, they were adorable and lovely in both, but while in the movie I shipped them with all my heart, in the book I honestly didn't want them to end up together. Book Sutter was so horribly flawed; he was an alcoholic, had trouble committing, and only even got involved with Aimee in the first place because her pitied her. He felt like it was somehow his duty to fix her and make her more sociable because she seemed halfway decent and he was in between girlfriends. I didn't want him to end up with Aimee, because when he started to wonder if the relationship was something he could really keep together I knew the answer was no. I had so much back story on him that I knew being a good partner for Aimee his whole life was going to be too much for him, and I didn't want Aimee to get hurt.

On the other hand, movie Sutter was charming and perfect, a little flawed, but still a perfect boyfriend. He asked Aimee out not because of drunken pity but because he actually liked her. His big problem of why he might want to break up with her was not "I know I am flawed," but instead "I'm worried I might be flawed, what if I'm like my father." Movie Sutter was awesome and sensitive. He was perfect for Aimee, because while book Sutter was in many ways a terrible influence, movie Sutter only brought out the best qualities in Aimee. That was why I felt different about their relationships, and that's the main difference between the two.

I try to accept that movies make changes to the source material, but The one thing I'm kind of ticked off about is that in the book, two of the female characters, Cassidy and Krystal, are both fat. Not a bit chubby, but fat. Gloriously fat. Cassidy is the type of girl who realizes that word is only an adjective and loves herself, and that made me feel awesome. Here's how the book described her:
"But what really sets Cassidy apart is is that she's so damn beautifully fat. And believe me, I don't use the word fat in a negative way. The fashion magazine girls are dried-up skeletons next to her. She has immaculate proportions. It's like if you took Marilyn Monroe and pumped her up to curves three sizes with an air hose. When I move my fingers along Cassidy's body, I feel like Admiral Byrd or Coronado, exploring uncharted territory."
The other girl, Krystal, is given this scene:
"Hey Krystal, didn't anybody ever tell you that if you eat another box of Ding Dongs, your big fat butt's going to explode? . . . Look at that big old butt. I'll bet it could hit about a seven-point-eight on the Richter scale."
But here are the actresses who portrayed Cassidy and Krystal respectively:
Brie Larson was a wonderful actress in this film, but she is not by any stretch of the term "fat." Same goes for Kaitlyn Dever. Krystal is insulted by some of the main characters because of her weight. All I'm asking is when you have a book that talks about being confident with body sizes, as well as bullying teenagers because of their body size, don't give the roles to actresses that are skinnier than most of the audience watching the movie. And I'm not saying you have to give the characters the same arc they had in the book, but don't slim them both down a hundred pounds!

The movie was very well-shot and well-acted, and I would recommend it to anyone who liked the book, or who just likes good indie movies.

Overall, I liked both the book and the movie, but in my mind the book is better.


PS, I'm going to do this again, but do you have any pointers or suggestions for next time? Also, would you rather I do a book and movie that's new to me (ex. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl) or a book and movie I've seen and have very strong opinions on? (ex. The Lightning Thief)?

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