5 Good and 5 Terrible Book-to-Film Adaptations

Last night at the MTV Movie Awards, the trailer for the film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky‘s coming-of-age novel, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” premiered with stars Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller in the house. Lizz declared the trailer “the best part of the night.”

The novel is a queer favorite, both because there are queer characters and because it so specifically explains what it’s like to be an outsider who thinks too much about everything and has too many feelings. It’s really important to us that this film is amazing. Our hearts are on the line here. It must make us feel infinite.

What do you think?

Thinking about this film got me thinking about other book-to-movie adaptations that either impressed me or stabbed me in the heart. This is what I came up with — share yours in the comments!y+

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5 Book-to-Movie Adaptations I Loved:

the virgin suicides was dreamy

Girl, Interrupted
Although Susanna Kaysen herself didn’t have a hand in this one, it still turned out remarkably faithful to the neurotic core of her bestelling memoir. I might even go so far as to say that I preferred the film’s interpretations of Kaysen’s characters to the original. Plus, it’s one of Winona Ryder‘s best performances ever and hello, Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for it.

The Virgin Suicides
Air’s haunting soundtrack to this film, based on the Jeffery Eugenides novel by the same name, gave the story the eerie dream-like atmosphere so elegantly evoked in the novel’s sleepy prose. The casting was impeccable, including James Wood and Kathleen Turner as Mr. and Mrs. Libson, and a peak-of-her-career Kirsten Dunst as Lux.  I also appreciate that this novel about women written by a man was adapted for the screen and directed by a lady — the lovely Sofia Coppola. Also I just realized that the actress who played Mary, Andrea Cook, is JJ in Criminal Minds.

The Safety of Objects
One of my favorite books of all time transformed into one of my favorite movies of all time, starring so many of my favorite people of all time, what could go wrong? Plus, it was directed by Rose Troche, who is a lesbian whose name you may recognize The L Word, South of Nowhere and Go Fish. Adapting a short story book into a movie is no easy feat, but Troche did AM Holmes‘ book justice and gave Kristen Stewart her first big role, playing a tomboy who passes as male.

kristen stewart as "sam" in "the safety of objects" with charlotte arnold as "sally" (she later appeared in "Degrassi")

The Ice Storm
The edition of “The Ice Storm” on my bookshelf includes an essay from Moody about making the movie. He liked the Ang Lee-directed adaptation, and said the biggest shock was as follows – “What I took away from the [meeting the cast at a luncheon] was how beautiful everybody in the movie was. Of course, this had nothing to do with the book. The characters in the book looked like real people. They had bad skin, multiple canker sores, glasses. They were puffy, they didn’t exercise enough. These actors, on the other hand, were beautiful. They were so beautiful that you couldn’t think of anything to say in their company, except You are incredibly beautiful!”  I imagine this probably happens to a lot of adapted directors. is probably happens to directors a lot.

Short Cuts
As a diehard Raymond Carver fan, I was nervous to see how his work fared in Robert Altman‘s adaptation, which weaved together narratives from different short stories into a three-hour movie — thank goddess it was well-done. But unlike the experiences I’ve had with other book-to-movie adaptations, the actors cast in the film never replaced the descriptions Carver wrote of them in my head. In general, the film was a different beast altogether, but a good & gentle beast.

Honorable mention: The Devil Wears Prada
This novel doesn’t rank as “a novel close to my heart,” because I hated every insufferable minute of that hack job from hell, but the movie was actually really fun and good! What’s funny about the book is the unconventional way in which it was picked up — though non-fiction books are usually picked up based on a book proposal, when it comes to novels, agents and editors generally want to see the entire manuscript before taking it on. The Devil Wears Prada, however, was bought based on the first half of the novel. This is readily apparent if you read the second half, which sucks.

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5 Book-to-Movie Adaptations I Hated:

Prozac Nation

this is how the film adaptation of "prozac nation" made me feel

This adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel‘s groundbreaking memoir was so mediocre it never even got a wide theatrical release. The book was pretty polarizing — it either changed your life or you totally hated it — but more importantly, it wasn’t exactly a movie-ready story and the protagonist was a hard sell at times. I’m sure Wurtzel herself was underwhelmed to see the entirely unlikeable pathological narcissist movie-version of herself, played by Christina Ricci, onscreen. The film was bafflingly centered on her relationship with this guy played by Jason Biggs, whose character, while important, was hardly the core of the book.

Less Than Zero
This first novel by Brett Easton Ellis, who sidenote is objectively a total asshole, suffered a horrible page-to-screen adaptation. This seems to happen to Ellis a lot, with the exception of American Psycho. In fact, Less Than Zero was so wildly different from the book, which relied heavily on a specific narrative voice, that when I read the novel I didn’t make the connection between it and that terrible video we’d rented a few years prior and turned off after the first ten minutes.

Ramona and Beezus
Ramona Quimby was my best friend for most of childhood. I read all the books and I loved the Canadian TV adaptation, which starred a young, precocious Sarah Polley as Ramona:

sarah polley as ramona and lorrie chodos as beezus in the canadian tv series

When I heard it was getting a reboot starring Selena Fucking Gomez, I reconsidered whether or not I actually want to have children one day if this is the kind of world they’ll be born into. For starters, Beezus isn’t supposed to be perfect and pretty. Furthermore, in addition to re-focusing the attention away from my precocious pal onto Selena Fucking Gomez’s stupid relationship whatevers, the film compressed six years of book action into one year and took the movie out of the 1980s asthetic so crucial to its atmosphere.

blah

A Home At The End of the World
You know when you’re totally in love with a book that you maybe heard about in a roundabout way — as in; you don’t have any friends to talk to about it, so most of your love and passion for the book stirs internally, desperate for affirmation — and then you discover OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOVIE! And then you rent that movie, and then that movie sucks and is boring? That’s what happened to me with Michael Cunningham‘s A Home At The End of the World. Bonus points to Angus the Manny from The L Word playing a gay guy, though.

Everything Is Illuminated
The best part of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s book is Alex’s voice, and without it, I found myself drifting away from the screen and towards doing laundry about midway through. LAUNDRY.

Honorable Mention: Fried Green Tomatoes
Here’s the thing — I liked this movie and I liked the book, but the movie left out all the gay parts in a really blatantly obvious fashion that I found super-offensive. Lesbian erasure left a giant hole in this otherwise fantastic story.

wouldn't it have been cool if they'd made out

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What are your favorite and least favorite book-to-movie adaptations? I’m sure you have a lot of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings feelings!

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

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178 Comments

  1. Thumb up 5

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    The Perks of Being a Wallflower trailer warms my heart so much. I read the book last year and even forgot that the protagonist’s name is Charlie, but watching the trailer felt as if a wave washed over me, bringing with it the bittersweet memories of my adolescence – the awkwardness of being an outsider to an all-girls school, having to adjust to the culture, finding friends to hang out with just so I don’t look and feel lonely but realizing their friendship lasts for only a couple of days…finally making better friends but I still feel the need to hide some things because they don’t seem quite understanding as I thought. All the while juggling academics and family issues. Sigh adolescence.

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    Oh, “Devil Wears Prada.” I have so many memories of that movie. My favorite was watching it for the first time with my best friend (a demanding CEO herself). When Meryl talked about the link between high fashion and the color of Anne’s shirt, my friend and I both whispered “I want to work for her.” My friend also stormed into the kitchen near the middle of the film and I heard her grumbling “Why are they complaining? She’s staying up all night reading the freaking book and making notes. They can whine when they stay up all night working. She’s not asking them to do anything she wouldn’t do herself.” I think I also heard her say at the end of the movie “Fine, run back to your raggedy boyfriend. I’ll go to Paris with Meryl.”

    It was perfect.

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    I don’t what it is but all I can think of is the Babysitter’s Club movie adaptation because I LOVED the opening song with all my heart.

    And the books, loved the books! I wanted to be “the babysitter” with a group of diverse friends in the suburbs.

    “hey, na-na-na-na, hey”

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    on the “loved” list: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Chocolat,” and “Harriet the Spy.”

    on the “disappointed” list: “I Capture the Castle,” “Tuck Everlasting,” “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” et al.

  5. Thumb up 2

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    One of my favorite adaptations of book to movie is The Secret Life of bees. The cast is fantastic (Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys), and they film really captured the heart of the book.

    I propose another category:
    Plays that have been well adapted into film.
    Rabbit Hole, Carnage (God of Carnage), Closer, Doubt, and of course, Angels in America.

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        Titus was the greatest! The way it used so many elements from different eras so it wasn’t just once-upon-a-time-in-Rome but more violence is real and families are fucked up and OH MY GOD the scene with Lavinia standing on the stump with her twig-hands. So beautiful, so haunting.

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      The Doubt movie didn’t do justice to the play, in my opinion. The heartbreaking wonderfulness of the play is that you don’t know what’s happened – you’re supposed to have doubts along with all of the other characters. The movie turned a delicately balanced script into another story of child abuse in the Catholic Church, which while noble, doesn’t do service either to the cause they were trying to help or to the book. Don’t you think it would be better for people to really have to think about sexual abuse, racism, sexism, Catholic hierarchy, etc?

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        Except, can we talk about how gay those moments were. I first watched that movie when I was 15 at my pastor’s house, and nobody batted an eyelash. Recently, though, one of my friends told me I should read the book because it is way more obvious about the lesbian parts. When I finished I wanted to watch the movie again to see how much it was de-gayified. I watched it with my friend who I rough-house with (we sometimes fight in the fetal position), and when it got to those scenes we were like “What? How do people not see how incredibly gay this is???” And then my rough-housing friend said that if she ever smeared blackberries on my face, I had the right to tell her that she had gone too far.

        But I would have been happier if they had kissed.

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          me too, but if it came down to not kissing to get the movie made at the time, I’m glad they made the movie, because they depicted an amazing love story, a fantastic conciousness raising, and what I thought was a beautiful, if restrained, movie.

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          I don’t know if it was reading all the comments about how they removed the gayness from the movie that made me really confused when I read the book. It didn’t seam that obvious to me. Maybe reading it without the movie and gay subtext idea would have been easier, idk.

          I mean, having it part of the plot = always better, but I didn’t think the book was much more obviously gay.

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          The first time I finished reading Fried Green Tomatoes, I walked into the kitchen and asked my mom if the Idgie and Ruth are lesbians. The book is never explicitly sexual (although there is a part that could be construed as implying a sexual relationship between Eva Bates and Idgie at one point), but in every other way it is the blatantly lesbian story I’ve ever read. I have dreamed about the day I might be called to reproduce long portions of the text that demonstrate its Sapphic-ness :).

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          Toward the beginning of the book Idgie’s mom tells everyone that Idgie has a crush on Ruth, and that they are not to make fun of her. So, like, gay.

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    I think my least favorite Book-to-Movie adaptation was It’s Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

    It’s one of my favorite books of all time, and the movie did not do it justice.

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      I was just about to see if anyone mentioned this because I thought the movie was pretty much as well made as it could possibly have been. It’s hard to fit a book with that much emotion into a movie. But I loved it.

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    OH MY GOD RAMONA QUIMBY DITTO DITTO

    Literally my favorite books when I was a kid. i am still so upset. the whole point is that both sisters are average looking. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. FUCK. i usually just pretend that movie doesn’t exist but i had to comment.

    oh also Fried Green Tomatoes makes me sad because both Idgie and Ruth were perfectly cast. so it could have been really really great.

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    Best: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of my favorites; it keeps the childhood innocence of the book and makes good use of cinematics to tell the story. But hands-down my favorite adaptation is The Little Princess, the Alfonso Cuaron version. Visually the film is stunning, but that soundtrack is what sets this movie apart- it really sets up the atmosphere and fits into the story so seamlessly.

    Worst: The 1998 Les Miserables with Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, and Clare Danes. Where do we start with how terrible that movie was? The weirdly romantic undertones between Valjean and Fantine, Valjean slapping Cosette, the complete lack of Eponine, Valjean just watching Javert kill himself…There was nothing redeeming about this movie.

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    Book-to-film adaptations that I really enjoyed (although they weren’t necessarily better than the books): Schindler’s List, Shawshank Redemption, The Hours, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Requiem for A Dream, and The Graduate. Oh and Forrest Gump :)

    Book-to-films that were just wrong: Atonement, Bright Lights Big City, Never Let Me Go, The Human Stain…and possibly The Shining, though I’m undecided on that one.

    I hope that the Perks of Being a Wallflower film isn’t a disaster. The Great Gatsby one too (DiCaprio? Really? Toby Maguire? REALLY?!). And don’t even get me started on the On the Road film. If they dare ruin one of my most favouritest books…

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    I know they’re more mini-series type things, but all of the Sarah Waters adaptations so far have been incredible and beautiful and super well done. And I’m not sure if The Hunger Games was actually good, or I was just hypnotised by Jennifer Lawrence but I enjoyed it all the same.

    Oh oh oh also, it wasn’t perfect but Never Let Me Go is one of my favourite books and the adaptation came out last year. I thought it was appropriately devastating.

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      I second the awesomeness of the Sarah Waters adaptations. I actually first heard of them when I walked into the living room in the middle of the sex scene in “Fingersmith.” This was awkward, in the way that watching sex scenes with your parents is always awkward. When I eventually got the books and then watched the mini series again, I was wowed both times.

      But I’m liable to be generous where something includes lesbian content and girls with cute accents.

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      I was so disappointed by the adaptation of the Night Watch though. They should have made it 3×1 hour episodes because they rushed through the whole story and I struggled to care about the characters. If viewers hadn’t read the book, I’m not convinced they would have cared about Kay at all.

      But YES to Never Let Me Go. Broke my heart. So glad I read the book first.

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    For me there needs to be a separation. I can’t get caught up in which I like and which I didn’t, on the strength of their adaptation I mean. Everything is Illuminated (I too missed Alex so much) and Never Let Me Go are two examples of novels I love which I loved as films for very different reasons. Everything about their adaptation should have spelled hate for me, but I latched onto them, appreciating the differences their respective mediums bring to the overall story I fell in love with to begin with,

    Likewise with The Lord of the Rings. It was quite difficult to reconcile the differences at first, but the changes were an important part of making the films enjoyable on their own merits – starting from the simplest and most profound change, a youthful Frodo.

    Harry Potter, on the other hand, I just couldn’t. Umbridge said it best, “[...] progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering.” The balance between adding and taking away was to the extremes, cutting out far too much worthwhile content while adding a lot of nonsense. The film adaptations of Harry Potter lacked the core ingredient I found so insatiable reading the books, they weren’t very Magical to me. Missing the point, IMO, is the worst failing an adaptation can have.

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      I agree with everything you said about Harry Potter. Like, those movies legitimately make me angry because I feel like they completely ignored or screwed up everything I loved about the books.

      What’s even more of a shame is that most of the cast was flawless.

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    I didn’t like The Devil Wears Prada as a book. I liked it a lot better when it was a movie. The movie began my fondness for Emily Blunt and Adrien Grenier. Later when I had a hard-to-get-along-with boss I privately referred to her as the Asian Miranda Priestly. (I never called her that to her face, however.)

    The other book-to-movie adaptation I have always disliked is The River King (by Alice Hoffman). I don’t think it did a good job of conveying the book’s magical realism at all.

    I loved both version of Chocolat.

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    When I was a little person I read most of the A Series of Unfortunate Events series and liked it and then the movie came out and I realized how strongly I felt about Jim Carrey being a really annoying actor.

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    Good: Fight Club- amazing cast (including Meatloaf…) and stands up against Palanuik’s novel as a different, complete, and compelling piece of art.
    Bad: Mansfield Park. Not only does it differ from the novel in horrific ways, but it doesn’t even turn it into anything remotely worth watching.
    On a side note, I love Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice to pieces. Completely captures the essence and emotion of the novel without sacrificing content or tone. I loved Atonement as well, and apparently it works in similar ways against Ian McEwan’s novel (unfortunately I haven’t read it yet).

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      I hated both the itv Mansfield Park and the Canadian one (which was made in 1999) the first time I saw it. I mean, I still sort of do. It took me a long time to get to this point, but I think Fanny should have ended up with Mr. Crawford. I have come to like him way more than Edmund. And I feel like the movie is on my side, while remaining true to the plot. However, I did not like Frances O’Connor’s portrayal of Fanny at all. I didn’t really like Billie Piper’s portrayal either, but I think it was more accurate to the book’s than O’Connor’s. And this is hard for me because I love both Frances O’Connor and Billie Piper, just not as Fanny Price.

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        Okay, I admit it, I have a lot of very STRONG feelings about Austen novels but bear with me…

        But you really wanted Fanny to end up with Henry Crawford after what he did with Maria at the end of the book? I mean, back in early 19th century England that basically ruined a woman, and he didn’t give a crap because he was just following his dick. He’s not as bad as some of the other “follows his dick” guys in Austen novels (like Willoughby or Wickham) but still pretty low.

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          Ok, but I thought that if he had married Fanny, he would not have done that to Maria, which, I guess, does not redeem him, but makes me think that he should have married Fanny, for his sake. Also, as I remember it, the sex was consensual. Of course, maybe Maria wasn’t really aware of the repercussions, and she also had more at stake, so that doesn’t make him any better either. But I really hate Edmund. How does he not see how superior Fanny is to Miss Crawford? I do not know. He is also a really big wimp. I guess, none of the men in that book were that great.

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          I think Edmund was kind of clueless with the ladies but he was always a nice and an otherwise smart guy, and I think he’s clearly a better match for Fanny personality-wise than Henry Crawford was.

          Also, I don’t know about Henry – I feel like in Austen novels, guys who think with their dicks always think with their dicks. I am just not very convinced that if he had ended up with Fanny, his affection for her wouldn’t have waned at one point and he would have ruined some other woman’s reputation, if not necessarily Maria’s. It’s suggested that Henry and Mary’s issues are more deep-seated than bad judgment, as Mary doesn’t see anything wrong with what Henry and Maria do except that they were caught.

          Also I don’t think the fact that Henry and Maria’s dalliance was consensual really redeems Henry in light of the customs of the time. It takes two to make an affair, and while Maria may have been too foolish to understand how she was ruining her reputation and that Henry wouldn’t likely marry her, Henry understood all of that and still engaged in it anyway with no regard for Maria’s welfare. It’s probably a bit patronizing but I think that was Austen’s intention and I think it makes sense in a time and place where men have an overwhelmingly greater amounts of privilege, power and agency to put more of the blame on their shoulders in these cases.

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      I’m not sure which Mansfield Park you’re talking about but if it’s the ’90s one with Frances O’Connor, I feel like I need to rewatch that since I saw it before I read the book – and I remember liking it then but I’m sure I’ll feel differently about it now.

      The only thing I remember about it right now is that the dude who played Sir Thomas is now Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey aka my current favorite show.

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      I thought Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice was way too brooding (especially the cinematography), more of a Bronte sisters kind of atmosphere than one you would expect from an adaptation of an Austen novel (other than Northanger Abbey), as she was often quite anti-Romantic (the whole point of Sense and Sensibility, for example). Also THAT ENDING. THAT ENDING. AAAAAA I WANT TO PUKE. But I liked the costume design a lot. Also, Jena Malone was a great Lydia.

      Overall, though, I prefer the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version.

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    Fried Green Tomatoes is amazing. I honestly love both the book and movie, but for different reasons. The work seperately, they just aren’t really comparable for me.
    Into the Wild is probably the only book that I like the movie more. The movie consists of everything that makes the book amazing, but without the MANY side stories the author puts in about other people that have nothing, besides comparable experience, to do with Chris McCandless.

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    Orlando by Virginia Woolf is one of her gayest books. She wrote it as a gift for her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and it features an incredibly trip-y plot line in which Orlando, born as a very pretty boy in Elizabethan England, becomes the Queen’s favourite, has a fling with the Russian ambassador’s daughter, goes to Turkey, and just wakes up as a woman one day. This isn’t a major deal for Orlando, although she does face additional difficulties re: travel and claiming her property back in England. She also lives for 400 years or something without ageing, which is never remarked on. I think she also has a fling with a pirate.

    The movie adaptation is a 90s art house movie from Sally Potter featuring Tilda Swinton in drag. I really feel that little more needs to be said. :D

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    I actually like A Home at the End of the World, the movie made me want to read the book. Seeing the movie before reading the book may have been crucial to my enjoyment.

    Loved: Breakfast on Pluto. I actually like the movie more than the book. It is a gorgeous film and Cillian Murphy is amazing in it.

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    Weird: Mysteries of Pittsburgh. They turned two major characters from the book into one character in the movie. They changed it all a lot. Yet, I enjoyed them both. The movie mostly for Peter Sarsgaard. The book more as a full package.

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    Agreed on Girl, Interrupted, The Virgin Suicides, and The Ice Storm.

    I didn’t know that A Home at the End of the World was a movie!!!

    I hated that they ruined Ramona. I couldn’t watch. And I agree that Prozac Nation the film was terrible.

    I love Fried Green Tomatoes the film, probably because I saw it a million times before I ever read the book, so my love for it is permanently cemented in my soul. I’m also basically in love with Idgie. And Ruth. I’m in love with both of them.

    Good: The Hours, Simon Birch, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Matilda, A Clockwork Orange (in a very separate kind of way)

    Bad: Ella Enchanted, Running with Scissors, White Oleander, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Lovely Bones

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        Oh my god yes. I mean really?? I went to a Gail Carson Levine reading/book signing, and someone asked her about the movie, and she said, very carefully, something like “The movie is very much their interpretation of the book.” Which, in my opinion, is basically her saying it sucked without giving her publishers reason for getting angry with her or something. But honestly, that book was my childhood, and that movie just made me cry. I hated Anne Hathaway for ruining Ella for me for a very long time after seeing it.

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          I’m still mad at Anne hathaway because of ella enchanted. I remember reading the book when I was 12 and loving it so much it became the first book I ever read more than once. it doesn’t matter how good Anne h may be in other films, I still haven’t gotten over ella enchanted so I can’t like her. On principle.

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          zomg i LOVED that book. so jealous you got to go to a book signing/reading, even though, you know, this is an anne hathaway/ella enchanted movie hate thread. which i also fully support. good god, what was with that horribly cgi-ed talking book and the sparklyness of everything in the movie? and the prince was THE WORST which sucks b/c i had such a crush on him and ella both at the time when i was reading the book (mostly her, in retrospect).

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      YES to The Other Boleyn Girl. I really like those books (trashy historical fiction/romance ftw) and was expecting the movie to be good b/c Scarlet Johanssen in a corset but it was so disappointing.

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        I hated the Ella Enchanted movie. Terrible adaption that left out all reasons I loved that book so much. I can’t even remember what I disliked so much, but you can bet that I won’t be watching it again to remember.

        I actually really enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes. Something about the plot of the book worked better as a movie to me, although it would have been better if they hadn’t toned down the gay stuff, but I could still watch that movie again and again.

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      one flew over the cuckoo’s nest…

      as much as i loved the movie, the metaphor of the fog machine and the chief as narrator are fundamental aspects of the book that i can’t possibly imagine being adapted (and they weren’t). i’d actually seen the movie first, and loved it. read the book years later (then immediately read it again once i’d finished), and promptly watched the movie again. i was so disappointed, crushed even…there is no comparison. i needed to learn to appreciate it as a movie, independent of the book. so, a good adaptation? i’m not sure, but definitely an excellent interpretation.

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      I was trying to think of other book-to-movie adaptations that I hated besides Bee Season, and you just reminded me of one with Ella Enchanted! What the HELL was that?

      I also like how you pointed out with A Clockwork Orange that adaptations can still be good even if they aren’t completely faithful to the book. Sometimes being faithful doesn’t quite work for translating to the screen, and it’s better just to see how you can make it interesting in a different way.

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    I have a lot of feelings about Everything is Illuminated, mostly that they cut out all the flashback to his ancestors in the shtetl sections, which in my opinion were the best part of the book. They did, however, cast Eugene Hutz as Alex, which makes the whole movie full of win IMO.

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    I have weird feelings about The Perks of Being a Wallflower being a movie. I had so many feelings about that book from a time in my life that was pretty bad. I love that part where the teacher says “we accept the love we think we deserve,” and all of the songs from Charlie’s mix tapes are on my iPod. My friends don’t really read, so having a favorite book is something I don’t share with anyone close to me. I don’t want it to be a movie because for some reason I want it to be *my* book and have it all to myself (that’s my selfish side talking). Having Emma Watson as a lead does make it slightly better though…

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      Woh. Kristen Stewart was in that? I guess I did see that when I was 17, and Kstew wasn’t a thing yet, and I was super tired and don’t remember a lot of it because I was watching it in the middle of the night. But still.

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    I know a lot of people who love the Virgin Suicides movie, but I just didn’t. I love the book, and read it many years before I eventually saw the movie. Didn’t live up to my expectations.

    A movie that I don’t think a lot of people realize was a book adaptation is Into the Wild. I’d say the movie is slightly more important to me than the book, but both are extremely close to me and had a lot of impact me as a teenager.

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    Ramona Quimby was also my best friend for a good part of my childhood, so I refuse to acknowledge that that Selena Gomez monstrosity even exists. There is no need to “modernize” Ramona like that, the thing that makes the series so great is that it’s timeless. “Beezus and Ramona” was originally published in 1955 but it fits in perfectly with the rest of the series that was published much later because all of the books have this very vague sense of time and place. Like Klickitat Street could be anywhere. (Obvs I have a lot of feelings about Ramona.)

    Other Likes not mentioned yet: Little Women (the 1990s version w/ Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kirsten Dunst); Sense and Sensibility (the one w/ Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, mostly b/c of the latter)

    Also yes to Girl, Interrupted. And someone mentioned Harriet the Spy, a big yes to that too. That was another of my favorite books as a child and I think they did a great job with the movie.

    Thumbs down: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The way they tried to modernize the look of it just ruined the whole thing for me. I think it’s kind of like my feelings on Ramona; I don’t want to be able to tell what year it is by the characters clothing or hairstyles. It should just be timeless, so every time I read it or watch it, it could be happening right now.

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    I hate Jodie Piccoult as a rule but the movie adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper was exceptionally awful because SPOILER ALERT they changed which sister died at the end.

    I may be the only person in the world who enjoyed the stage-to-movie adaptation of RENT.

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      hahahaha…i tried to watch the movie version of rent, but i kept wondering “why the fuck are they singing everything? people don’t do that.” needless to say, i don’t like musicals.

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      I enjoyed the stage-to-film adaptation of RENT, but not necessarily because it was good. Parts of it were good and parts of it were so god awful they were just fun to laugh at. Like Adam Pascal’s hair and all of “What You Own.”

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    adding to the category of soon to be released movies based on books I loved: Ender’s Game. The baby-nerd in my devoured the Ender series (and the Bean Series and all of the companion novels), and when I heard that they’re finally making the movie, I got really excited, and also incredibly nervous about it.

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      i’m really looking forward to ender’s game, too. they did okay with the graphic novels & from what i hear, they’re doing justice to the main story. it’s my very favorite book (and least favorite author, for obvious reasons) but i hope they do it justice.

      i’m of two minds about book2film adaptations. i can enjoy them both. for example *spoiler alert*

      in the Last of the Mohicans movie, the wrong sister dies. i love the movie, but i didn’t actually know that there was a discrepancy until i read the book in college.

      the “Last Unicorn” is pretty faithful, as far as 80’s animated films can be, and remains one of my favorite films.

      i love the second tv miniseries of Dune, featuring William Hurt and Alex Newman (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142032/).

      also, i think the Legend of the Seeker TV show is better than the books by Terry Goodkind *stands ground*

      i can enjoy both the books and the films/tv series as separate objects, but it’s very nice when they follow some pattern or do justice to the characters (Pain Killer Jane comics, Hellboy, Birds of Prey TV series, etc.). I love the interliteracy of it…and it really makes the books/media much easier to “sell” to teens and young adults. #mytwocents

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      I’m surprised we’re talking about Ender’s Game and no one has mentioned yet how Orson Scott Card is a virulent homophobe who is on the board of the National Organization for Marriage.

      I mean, I really loved that book, but I don’t really have any desire to give Card any money by going to see that movie (or continuing to buy his books, which I now get secondhand or check out from the library now).

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    They are making a film adaptation of Anna Karenina, with Keira Knightly as Anna. Ugh. The only actor who would be worse Anna is Kirsten Dunst. Anna is supposed to voluptuous and commanding without being overtly commanding and a force and so so womanly. My friends and I all think that Kate Winslet should be her.

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    Ok so I read this and saw that Emma Watson is in The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I bought the novel on my nook on a whim.

    I read it in a single sitting.

    I now have a lot of feelings. I am seriously looking forward to this movie (and not just because of Emma Watson).

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        I know, right? I haven’t read the book since high school, and have now dug it out of my bookshelf to re-read based on how confounding those ACTION PACKED SEQUENCES are in the trailer.

        Then again it is a Baz Luhrmann film, so.

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      I want to like the Gatsby movie because the trailer was really pretty and I totally have a crush on Carey Mulligan and I feel like there needs to be a good adaptation of that book (the Robert Redford one from the ’70s is awful). But I really hope that he doesn’t feel the need to put a bunch of modern music into the film like was the case for the trailer, and as seems is becoming a pattern in his films. The ’20s was such a great era for music with all that awesome early jazz, why the hell would you feel the need to “modernize” the soundtrack?

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    The thing about the film of The Virgin Suicides is that I saw it before I read the book, and fell in love in that way you do when you’re 15 and a movie feels like your life in a way you can’t express, and then I read the book and it felt the *exact* same. Like, the soundtrack and the narration and everything was literally as if someone had taken the book, and put it on a screen. That never happens. So I think it wins my Best Adaptation award (along with To Kill a Mockingbird, which obvs wins all the awards forever.) The book of The Virgin Suicides is still one of my favourite ever — it’s the only one I slow down to read, because every word is incredible.

    I have a lot of feelings about The Virgin Suicides, is the moral of this post.

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    Well, I’ve just added a few titles to my must read list :)

    One of my favourite movies/books is About a Boy. I saw the movie a long time ago, long before I read the book, and it’s still one of my all time favourites. Yes, it’s a bit different to the book, but it still evokes a lot of the same feelings for me :)

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    Tomorrow When the War Began; when I saw the author talk when book 7 came out, said he had tons of offers for movies but turned them all down because they lacked the vision of the books. Movie was, 10ish years later? clearly it’d have to be a masterpiece, right?
    Book/s: My Favorite
    Movie Trailer: So excited
    Movie: Dull and disappointing

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      I am SO excited to see you mention TWTWB!! I love this series, I was hooked when the final 4 out of 7 came out. And I had to get a friend in Australia to send me the Ellie Chronicles because I couldn’t wait for them to come out in the UK. I still stay up all night re-reading them.

      I don’t think the movie was dull, but it was disappointing. I think that was inevitable because the books had such a fan base. I feel like I know those characters inside out and I think they were pretty faithful. I like that it was an Australian production with unknowns. I’m hoping they at least get to make 1 or 2 more films.

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    Oh god, this article/comments totally hit a nerve. Too many feelings!

    I agree with the person earlier who said that Julie Taymor’s ‘Titus’ adaptation was great. That play is obviously not easy to stage, and she sort of re-defined the medium really, really successfully.

    Fried Green tomatoes was problematic but also felt sort of complimentary to the book, if not true to it. They did mess up some scenes, though. Like the bee thing, which is pretty much the most adorable page-and-a-half of any literature ever written and wasn’t translated very well. The film also largely cut the African-American story lines, which were worth telling in their entirety, and that made me sad.

    Orlando I liked visually, though the Tilda Swinton casting choice seemed odd to me, especially since she looks totally unlike Vita Sackville-West, and also because Tilda Swinton sort of terrifies me. (I realize this is a personal issue and the movie was still well executed, haha.)

    On the Vita Sackville-West tangent, though, has ANYONE ever seen “Portrait of a Marriage”? Based on Nigel Nicholson’s (Vita’s son) biography of his parents. I thought it was pretty successful, especially for a lesbian-themed storyline in 1990! Technically I think it was a TV miniseries, but then so were the Sarah Waters adaptations (which I also liked! When is Night Watch coming out??)

    My gripes are all (mostly) with beloved childhood stories which have been butchered beyond recognition, such as:

    “The Dark is Rising” – One of the best children’s book series ever, Americanized and essentially pooped upon by some goons who were after a quick buck. Even the author has completely renounced it.

    “Matilda” – Sorry, controversial, I know. But I really have a thing against Americanization of beloved British stories. And also, what the hell did they do to the, you know, entire storyline? It was melodramatic and not wicked/hilarious like the book.

    “Golden Compass” – Agh. “Magisterium”? Really? Just, no. I feel like the story had been castrated, or had its soul cut out, which is ironically appropriate given the general plot.

    Also honourable mention to the 2006 Wicker Man for being the most mangled horrible remake of another film, ever.

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    Ohmygod I LOVE Everything is Illuminated the film! It’s one of my favourites. My whole family loves it. We’re Ukrainian, so we can identify with a lot of the cultural bits. Even my mom, who has notoriously AWFUL taste in films (she only likes movies with Jennifer Aniston or SJP or Jennifer Lopez), loves EII. But if you’re a fan of the book, I can understand why you may not like the film. Personally, I was not crazy about the book when I read it.

    The Neverending Story is another of my favourite films, but in terms of how well it works as an adaptation of the book, it’s pretty bad. I read the book years after seeing the film, and it just broke my heart to see how much was left out, especially regarding the terrible second film. But in the sequel’s defense, it wasn’t meant to be a *direct* adaptation of the second half of the book, anyway. Still, it’s a dreadful film. Apparently though, Leonardo DiCaprio’s working on a new film adaptation, so I suspect the book will receive the proper adaptation is deserves.

    I have faith in the new Gatsby film. I’m not a huge fan of DiCaprio, but I trust him to pick generally good films. And it’ll be nice to see Tobey Maguire again, since Andrew Garfield’s replaced him as Spider-Man.

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    Prisoner of Azkaban has to be the most abominable adaptation in the universe. I take it personally as it was my favourite book in the HP series and I’ve read it more times than I can count. The second one that I absolutely cannot stand in the Count of Monte-Cristo, the one with Jim Caviezel aarrrggghhhh that’s my favourite book and they ruinded it! Thank heavens the French had done a much better job at it with a TV films series.I also diskliked the Girl With The Pearl Earring, how can a movie with both ScarJo & Collin Firth be such a failure? I’m also not a big fan of what they did with John Carter & Queen of the Damned (that was such a horrible movie lol). I do like Interview With A Vampire, LOTR trilogy. I’m really picky so most of the times I never enjoy movie adaptations. I heard they’re trying to make a Paradise Lost film … I’m already dreading it as it’s probably unfilmable (let’s pretend that’s a word) and it will be a hot mess.

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      That’s weird, I love Prisoner of Azkaban because I feel like it’s the only one that can stand alone as a movie (aside from the last 2). He cut a massive amount out, but it streamlined the main points more successfully than most of the others, and stands out as being artistically cohesive (as artistically cohesive as a Harry Potter movie can get).

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    If I’ve read the book first I avoid the movie at all costs, because I always hate it. Case in point: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which I wanted to enjoy because it has the real Chablis in it. I made it five minutes before I was shouting at the screen because it wasn’t how things happened in the book.
    I read The Hours after seeing the movie, but it still remains the ONLY movie version that I like as much as or more than book. There is nothing else.

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    This list speaks truths, but I kind of disagree about Everything Is Illuminated. I really liked the movie.

    Also, The Perks of Being A Wallflower embarrasses me. Like, I’m embarrassed that I read that when I was 14 and was obsessed with it.

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    I have no faith that Perks will live up to the book. I can’t even bring myself to watch the trailer. One of my dog-eared books that spoke to me more than anyone or anything else did when I was 18 and losing myself. And I have to nominate Girl, Interrupted as one of the worst and most disappointing adaptations. That book was honest and poetic, the movie was full of over-acting and over-moodiness and too many changes in important details to not go unnoticed. I read an interview with Susana Kaysen when it came out that she was heavily-consulted while making it. I felt completely betrayed.

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    The adaptation of ‘Foxfire’ was dreadful. The cast was great (Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu and Jenny Lewis, oh my!), but the only things the film really shared with Joyce Carol Oates’s book were the character names. The book is set in the ’50s and is a scathing critique of gender and capitalism (and racism to a lesser extent) with homoerotic subtext that might as well be text. The movie is set in the ’90s and it’s main message is…friends are important? I guess?

    ‘Watchmen’ was also a horrible disappointment. There are just some things you DO NOT do, and change the fucking ending of ‘Watchmen’ is one of them!!!

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    i completely agree about the devil wears prada. i hadn’t read the book before i saw the movie, and i really loved the movie; then i read the book and…i didn’t get it. it didn’t even seem like the same story.

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      I’m so glad I wasn’t the only person with this reaction! I rarely see the movie before I read the book but this was one exception. I liked the movie, but I didn’t love it. So I thought “the book must be better, right? The book is always better!” WRONG! Especially the second half which confused me until now!

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    Okay I’m probably going to leave some out but here goes – and I am only counting ones where I actually read the book(s) in question:

    GOOD:
    -The first three Harry Potter films (my opinion seems to be unpopular here re: PoA, but it was my favorite Potter movie and least favorite Potter novel)
    -Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson version)
    -Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version)
    -Clueless (should totally count because it was an update of Emma)
    -Lolita (Stanley Kubrick version)
    -To Kill A Mockingbird

    BAD:
    -Bee Season
    -Ella Enchanted
    -The Great Gatsby (Robert Redford version)
    -The fourth and fifth Harry Potter movies (should probably have been extended into a couple movies for each book instead of leaving so much out)

    MEH:
    -V for Vendetta (wasn’t a terrible movie but really dumbed-down the message of the graphic novel, and I hate how people who haven’t read it GUSH over this movie)
    -Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version, would be in “Good” except that Gwyneth irritates me and Ewan McGregor’s hairdo in this movie irritates me even more)
    -Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version – was pretty but not sure I liked how it deviated from the book, and UGH that ending UGH)
    -Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh version – would be in the “GOOD” category except for the inclusion of one Keanu Reeves)

    (And just fyi still haven’t fully sorted out my feelings on the more recent Harry Potters.)

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    How comes no one ever mentioned Game of Thrones?
    I know, it isn’t technically a film adaptation but rather a tv adaptation but who cares ;)

    So, I’m not sure about you guys but I just love, love, love the adaptation of Games of Thrones. So far, they left almost nothing out (never seen such a accurate adaptation!) and it’s perfectly casted and made and everything is just like the book series! I love it and, since it’s on hiatus again, I’m missing it already again!

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        Addendum: That being said, I think part what makes Game of Thrones so successful is that most of the people watching haven’t read the Song of Ice and Fire books. I feel like if they did that with a more popular, less niche series like the Harry Potter books or something, it wouldn’t work, because everyone would know what was going to happen.

        (I don’t know though if GoT deviates from the books at all, though? I’ve heard the show has way more sex than the books but then, it’s HBO, of course it does.)

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    I hopped on the Perks train a little late, but I read it with my roommate earlier this year and absolutely loved it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I’ve been waiting for the movie since before reading the book (Emma Watson guilty pleasure), and the trailer was great.
    The overall feel of the trailer felt different than the tone of the book to me though. I love the casting of Logan Lerman, but from the blips I saw, he seemed more… not-socially awkward than Charlie? And while I (am in) love (with) Emma, I’m skeptical about her playing Sam. Regardless of the adaptation, this looks like a great a movie.

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    taking it back for a second?

    The Secret Garden!

    the movie bored me when i was small. Then i read the book and was enthralled by the story. After that, every time it comes on tv, or we had to watch it in class, id be glued to my seat!

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    I have to agree with your reasoning about Everything is Illuminated, though personally the music (which I loved) was enough to keep me at least listening through the whole thing.

    The scene at the beginning which was the only place that retained Alex’s voice is still my favorite part though.

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    I absolutely hate when movies that have gay and lesbian characters blatantly leave out their sexuality and relationships ahem the Color Fucking Purple! Shug and Celie were lovers! Anywho the perks of being a wallflower seems like it will be pretty nice and warm

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    whoah this blog is excellent i really like reading your posts. Stay up the great paintings! You know, lots of individuals are searching round for this info, you can aid them greatly.

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