Sunday, June 7, 2009

Picture Book to....Picture

I published this over on my other blog but felt it fit better here. We'll see how the migrating thing works. 

A friend of mine just mentioned recently on Facebook that they were making a film out of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. If I had to list my absolute favorite picture book from when I was growing up, it would be this book. I never got tired of reading it or looking at those great pictures of a town buried in food. (Apparently I was a hungry child.) Sony Pictures is making the film and I normally have high-regard for what they do. I watched the trailer and I'm a bit...well...concerned. Add that to the already dubious Where the Wild Things Are that is coming out from Warner Bros this year. The visuals look amazing for this film but somehow I know they'll get the tone wrong.

For those who know me I'm normally incredibly harsh to films based on books I've loved. The movies are just never as good. I am reminded of my Grandmother who saw Gone With the Wind for the first time and declared it was terrible. If anyone brought up the film she would scowl and say it was rubbish compared to the book. I'm guessing that's where I get my attitude. The trailer for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs focuses on a young inventor who creates a food making machine that goes wrong. Of course this character never appeared in the book. There were really no characters in the book, other than the grandfather and the kids. The book was wonderful because it was so sedate. It told the story of the town in a documentary style. The town itself became the main character. The movie looks to be zany in a way that makes me nervous. I know it's tough to stretch a 32 page book into a film but the question remains, why try? Just read the book.

I have to give credit where credit is due though. There have been a couple movies that have lived up to the picture books they were based on. The one I'm thinking of in particular is Meet the Robinsons by Disney. The film is based on the book A Day With Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce and matches the zany bizarre world that Joyce creates. Perhaps the film is so good because Joyce was involved in the design and screenplay. The book and screenplay are very different (with many added characters) but it is done while staying true to the tone of the book. The dialogue is hilarious, particularly the newly created Bowler-Hat Man. Its a very quotable film that somehow manages to be touching at the end. I've even talked to people who've cried at the end of the movie, a rarity for an animated film. So I have to admit, there was a film that actually compared well to the book. Now I'll just have to hold out hope for the others.

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