Jessica Day George

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Get a Clue!

Girls and boys, it's time for another edition of Book-to-Movie Adaptation Travesty! Wahoo! This week's entry: "Get a Clue!" based on the superb Newbery Award winner "The Westing Game". The movie, apparently a made for tv jobbie, is so awful that the DVD cover doesn't have anything to do with the movie. Yes, the movie bears no relation to the book, and the cover of the DVD bears no relation to the movie! I guess the cover designer was trying to distance himself from the movie by putting a girl who was not a cast member on the cover, and surrounding her with things that didn't happen in the book or the movie! Now that's bad! But again I say: why oh why did they have to do this? Why? The Westing Game is not a long book that needs condensing. In fact, I would have thought you could use the actual text as the screenplay, it's just that ripe for filming. But instead they hacked out characters, changed motives, inexplicably made Turtle's podiatrist/bookie father into an unemployed stockbroker and other completely arbitrary changes. Theo and Chris Theodorakis were combined to produce one good-looking boy in a wheelchair, who lived alone. Yep, a handicapped teenager who had his own sweet apartment, had trouble buttoning his own shirt in one scene and yet lived alone. It was ludicrous. Gone was the cleverness, the twists, the snappy dialog. In its place was a pantheon of characters so broadly written and woodenly acted as to seem cartoonish. And who were these actors? Ray Walston. Diane Ladd. Shane West. People you expect better from. (Well, Shane West was awfully young, so we'll excuse him.) But Diane Ladd!? Good golly, it was bad stuff. I think I may have to go read the real, true and original "Westing Game", just to cleanse my palate. Then I may need a bit of a lie down. Then I think I'll reread "The Tattooed Potato and other Clues" another fine book from Ellen Raskin.


Nikki said...

How sad! I read that book in sixth grade (I won't say how many years ago that was) on a recommendation from a great student teacher. I loved it. I think I've read it several times since then--every few years when I've forgotten the plot twists enough to enjoy it again. Bad movie adaptations of great books should not be allowed!

Shelby said...

The producers/director/writers need to get a clue! Sorry, that was a bad pun.