Tuesday, September 14, 2010

At the Movies with a Book Report: (Some Last Words on) The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Last Christmas, the bf bought me a copy of Nicholas Sparks's latest, The Last Song. Having read and enjoyed all of Nicholas Sparks's other novels, I devoured it immediately. And it was pretty good. Not as good as Dear John or Nights in Rodanthe, but nonetheless entertaining. I missed seeing the movie version when it came out in March, so I rented it last weekend (once again Hot Tub Time Machine was shafted. But its day will come.) Although the movie version of The Last Song was very close to the book, it was strangely disappointing. I find myself having this reaction to lots of movies based on books. (Ironically, I felt the opposite way about The Notebook. I loved the movie but was lukewarm about the book. Maybe that's because I saw the movie first.) I think it's because movies don't allow enough time to build upon all the details that make characters and relationships seem real. For example, in the book The Last Song, readers observe the main character, Ronnie, fall in love with Will as well as reconnect with her father in stages. But in the movie it all happens so fast that you're kind of left not quite believing it (at least I was). Also, Ronnie was a lot edgier in the book, with purple hair and an attitude to match. Although still a surly borderline tough girl, movie Ronnie (played by Miley Cyrus) is softer, with normal hair and only a discrete nose stud to advertise her rebelliousness. Finally, the theme of fire is more prominent (and therefore scarier) in the book. The villain, Marcus, is always juggling fireballs in view of Ronnie's house (he wields both a creepy romantic interest in her and a secret about Will), and Marcus's girlfriend, the aptly-named Blaze, is badly burned by one of Marcus's fireballs and ends up in the hospital. Also, Marcus causes the proverbial "trouble" at Will's sister's wedding, destroying an entire tent. When I read this scene in the book, it struck me as a made-for-the-movies-moment. But in the movie it's very pared down; although Marcus and Will fight, I don't recall a collapsed tent. All this was topped off by an ending that seemed to occur rather abruptly.

But despite all these shortcomings, the movie was still fun to watch. Although I enjoy writing these movie and book reviews, I sometimes fear that I sound a bit uppity. I mean, what do I know? I'm just a nobody consumer with too much time on her hands. Suppose I were ever to publish my book and people wrote less-than-stellar reactions to it? Knowing my soft-hearted ways, I suspect I'd be sorely hurt. That's how poor Lily felt in Marian Keyes's The Other Side of the Story when reviewers savaged her debut novel (click the Marian Keyes tag on the left to read more about that one). But then again, I enjoy most books and movies to one degree or another. Even the ones I seem hard on. After all, even material I don't 100% love opens up a sort of commentary off of which I can bounce thoughts and ideas.

I think I'm getting a bit punchy. It's time to pack it in.

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