As my friend Soul Khan once said: “books…they’re like movies you can take into the bathroom.” Verifiably, books are often better than their cinematic adaptations. But now, thanks to iPads and flat-screen TVs that can fit in your shower, you literally can take a movie into the bathroom with you. The dream is realized, and books need to do something to keep up with the changing world.
Until then, let’s see what movies readers believe are actually better than their source text. One person on Reddit wanted to know: “What movie was better than the book and why?” Basically, the assumption is that nerds love to say “the book was better” in nearly every instance of cinematic adaptation. Well, we’re here today to prove that theory wrong.
Speaking of nerds, last night I watched The Matrix Resurrections which is a movie based on another better movie and is, essentially, terrible fan-fiction. The filmmakers decided to add to their previous work by diluting and recycling the original. Usually, this is not what happens when a movie is adapted from a book. In that instance, the filmmakers add something or take something out that enrages fans of the book, but that moviegoers agree was kind of better. I’m thinking specifically about the movie version of Watchmen (2009). Please do not send hate mail.
The magic of movie-making is that you can say a lot more in a shorter amount of time. There’s no describing the red robes the Handmaids wear. You just see them. Also, for whatever reason, one line of dialogue is enough to get a point across. You don’t need 8 pages of dialogue to get there. Frankly, movies are sped-up books, and since this website is all about ‘getting to the point,’ I must say I prefer them.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. Below you’ll find movies based on books that were actually better than the book itself.
Here are the movies that readers swear were better than the book:
1. Big Fish
“The movie explores the wondrous world of the father’s outrageous stories, but the book lacks all that lavish imagery. Instead it’s just a bitter retelling from spoiled child who thought his daddy didn’t love him enough.” –cavaliereternally
“Jaws, because everyone in the novel is a terrible person, and a lot of the tension in the film is removed because the guys hunting the shark just get to go home every night in the book.” –MysteryGirlWhite
Also: “Steven Spielberg said when he read the novel he found himself rooting for the shark because the human characters were so unlikeable. The movie got rid of the unnecessary subplots like the Mayor’s involvement with the Mafia and Ellen Brody having an affair with Hooper.” –Podlubnyi
3. Mean Girls (did you know it was an adaptation?)
“Queen Bees & Wannabes mostly known by its movie adaptation name as Mean Girls.
I mean they’re basically nothing alike but the book is supposed to be a self help book.” –SunkenQueen
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
“The book was supposed to be written as film-noir, but it ends up as a disjointed mess. the characters are there, but they have none of the charm of the movie. Eddie isn’t a good man, who’s ruining his life with booze after the loss of his brother; he’s a drunk asshole, just because. Roger is dead.
The plot is also different; the movie took the idea of humans and Toons interacting, and went in a completely different direction.” –Yakb0
5. Forrest Gump
“Groom did get the right ‘flavors’ of the Deep South and especially Alabama into that book. Still, the movie was better.” –CandyAppleSauce
6. The Devil Wears Prada
“I love the movie, and I went to read it and had to force myself to finish the book since I started it. Hate-read it. Andy is so unlikeable in the book, like you have to wonder how she kept the job at all or had any friends or a boyfriend. All she does is complain. I’m glad they were able to make a wonderful movie out of this, because Meryl Streep is flawless as Miranda Priestly.” –aser2323
7. The Shawshank Redemption
“It was part of a four-part novella release by Stephen King. The story was very short but very well written. I just feel like the movie really captured the spirit of the story and gave some depth to the characters. Plus, the acting was great.” –jonny_walkman
8. Jurassic Park
“John Hammond from Jurassic Park was much better in the movie. In the book he was kind of your standard greedy businessman. In the movie was was a dreamy idealist with good intentions, which made it so much more heartbreaking when the park inevitably failed.” –Dr_Screwlittle
9. The Godfather
“This is immediately what came to mind for me. I don’t need chapters about Sonny’s massive dong and Bridesmaid’s wide set cervix.” –FrysItchyButt
“I think Arrival was better, and that’s coming from someone who really liked the short story. The movie is just better at telling that story overall.” –GreatTragedy
“The movie Fletch (wisely) left out the fact that he sleeps with a 14-year-old prostitute who overdoses and whose body he then buries on the beach.” –glorious_cheese
12. Children of Men
“One of my all time favorite movies, but I thought the book was just meh.” –FutileHurling
13. Fantastic Mr. Fox
“It’s my favourite book of all time, but goddamn that movie is incredible. Wes Anderson just made it his own thing. The movie has so much more character. Mr Fox in the movie is so charming and intelligent, but also 10 times more arrogant than he was in the books. But he makes up for it in the end.
Also, his backstory with the wolf is amazing. Mrs Fox is also so much goddamn better. In the book, she literally did nothing except cook the huge meal at the end. The scene in the movie where she fights Rat with a chain still gets me pumped up. And don’t even get me started on Ash and Kristofferson. Oh my god, what a goddamn improvement from the three small foxes from the books. Ash is so goddamn relatable, and Kristofferson is so lovable.” –oh-lawd-hes-coming
14. The Princess Bride
“I found Buttercup’s character way worse in the book, even to a point where I was like okay dude cut ties you’re better off without her and in the movie I never feel that really.” –AlkalineSoul
“They took a 36 page book and turned it into the greatest movie of all time.” –krakrocks
16. Slumdog Millionaire
“I feel that it’s somewhat cheating (in regards to this question) for films like Slumdog Millionaire, Forrest Gump, and Jojo Rabbit because they aren’t even trying to be faithful adaptations. They take a lot of liberties and go in a lot of different directions than the source material. So whether it’s even the same story as the book Q&A on which it’s based is debatable. But I certainly enjoyed it more.” –Musketeer85
17. Fight Club
“The book had a better ending, but it was written in such bizzare style it was a chore to read. And it’s a short book too. Chuck Palahniuk also liked the movie better than the book?” –Driver_goon
18. Call Me By Your Name
“The movie was a beautiful study of silences. In the book you experienced every thought going through a 17 year old boy’s head. It was manic. In the movie you had to rely on Chalamet’s performance to understand what was going on in his head.” –pjo1966
19. Blade Runner
“The novel was good but the movie perfected the tone and quite honestly I thought Deckard was written better for the film.” –mindfeces
20. American Psycho
“The book is deliberately over the top in its descriptions of things to the point of being tedious, which contrasts to the extremely graphic imagery of the real psychopath to convey the satire. The film is a fantastic performance from Bale and manages to portray the obsessiveness with consumerism of the Yuppies at the time and their culture, but does it in a way that is more a comedy noir which suits the medium better.” –Desertinferno
21. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
“I watched the movie and loved it so much that I bought the book trilogy. The movie is beautiful but reading the book made me realise that it’s the cinematography and acting that make the movie so good – the actual plotline is really cheesy. The books are also written in a really simple way, for a much younger audience.” –JingJitSu
“Matilda (the character) was a hell of a lot more likeable in the film than the book.” –Bethlizardbreath
23. No Country For Old Men
“The book is great but McCarthy’s style of writing makes it pretty difficult to read and follow the flow of what’s going on. Meanwhile, the movie has you on the edge of your seat, has a very eerie feel to it and the casting is very spot on.” –TwoSnapsMack
“The book had a slow pace that didn’t create the same atmosphere as the movie.” –The_Height_of_Folly
25. The Graduate
“The book that this movie is based off of was critically panned, but director Mike Nichols took interest in the absurd source material and directed one of the highest grossing films of all time.” –Digimon_Shiny
26. Starship Troopers
“I feel like Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is above all else an indictment of Heinlein’s novel. Which was already a response to political views.” –bigdon802
27. 50 Shades of Gray
“50 Shades of Grey, just because it couldn’t possibly have been any worse.” –DiMono
“The book was just a bunch of rules.” –GulliverJoe
h/t Reddit: r/AskReddit