New Movie Ideas that Need to Happen: Books

Final in a series on interesting topics that haven't made it to the big screen. This week: Books, of course!

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With February, and hopefully entertainment award season, coming to a close, I've come to the end of a series devoted to finding new ideas for movies from a variety of sources. (Parts one, two, and three focused on history, comic books, and songs respectively.)

There is no creative well for ideas as vast as the world of literature, I think, but this final list in my series comes with a caveat: be careful what you wish for.

Many a time I have been thrilled to see a favorite book get selected for a big screen adaptation only to be disappointed, disillusioned, and sometimes disgusted.

For example, I didn’t hate the movie adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (it was actually really fun), but since I thought the book was one of the most original, page-turners I devoured in years, I couldn’t help but pick it apart, CGI piece by CGI piece. It just didn't compare.

Thus the curse of the book lover. You fall so deeply into the worlds between the pages, you want to be able to absorb them in a multi-sensory experience like a movie. Then, you finally see someone else’s vision spread out in front of you and you think, “This was all wrong!”

Right now, one of my favorite guilty pleasure reads of all time, Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, is coming to Amazon Prime on May 31, and I really am dying (no Armageddon pun intended) to see it. The casting of Crowley (David Tennant) and Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) in particular seem spot on, and the Terry Gilliam-like title sequence is a good sign:

Yet, still I worry. Will they try to infuse too much out-of-place politics where it doesn’t need to be? Will they yank some of my favorite scenes for time constraints? Oh please, do this one right!

So it is with a sense trepidation that I offer these suggestions for books needing some big screen treatment:

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore:

Moore’s raunchy fantasies set in the northern California community of Pine Cove have gained quite a following, but his debut novel is still the funniest. This weird “buddy story” follows 100-year-old Travis O’Hearn and Catch, his people-eating and snarky-comment-tossing demon traveling companion.

When they reach the quirky Pine Cove, Travis hopes to find a way to finally rid himself of Catch. All Hell breaks loose at the expense of the characters, and it is nonstop amusement for the reader.

Despite fans wanting to see this happen, Moore, when asked in the past if there is any progress happening to make his books into movies said on his own webpage, “Not a damn thing.”

All his books have been optioned or bought for film at one time or another, but that’s as far as that goes, I suppose.

No big screen Catch yet.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde:

This whole concept is great. There’s a special group of literary operatives out there looking out for the classics we read and making sure people don’t mess with them. When characters from Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre begin to go missing, special operative Thursday Next puts her skills to work.

This book takes place in an alternate world circa 1980s, but it could easily be done anytime. Plus, protagonist Thursday Next is a smart, funny, and a very relatable character who fans would want to follow along in a weekly television or movie series.

Oh, and pretty much everyone in the story owns a cloned Dodo bird!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin:

This Newberry Award winner was my Ready Player One when I was a fourth grader…I didn’t want to put it down until I got the answers. There’s a mystery mixed with a hunt mixed with a young underdog.

Reclusive millionaire Sam Westing has left clues in his will to a group of carefully selected “heirs.” These people come from a wide range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and occupations, and don’t seem to have anything in common except being part of this “game.”

The ones who find out who killed Westing first will inherit his entire fortune and control of his company. It was written in 1978, and it is still a worthy adventure.

In all fairness, this book has been made into a pretty forgettable television adaptation in 1997 under the name Get a Clue, but this needs some big budget treatment. It deserves better.

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey:

Did you ever think a there would be a kid-friendly version of Reservoir Dogs, and we parents would approve? The weird genius behind Thelma the Unicorn has done it.

Blabey’s illustrated misadventures of a bunch of “bad guys” (Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark) trying to do good things is prime, family-friendly, binge watching. This illustrated series helped my youngest transition to reading on her own.

She has read this series again and again, still quotes it, and reads passages aloud to whoever will listen. I have never seen her so taken with a book series, and I’m thankful to Blabey for giving her the reading bug.

These books are a hoot and would make for an equally funny series. It doesn’t look like anything is happening soon, although Blabey has his own background as an Australian television and film actor. That might give him and advantage.

Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan:

Klavan is an Edgar Award winner, which means interesting stories for readers and thrillseekers. I liked this one better than some of his crime reads, as it brings a gritty crime mystery element look to the supernatural genre.

What happens when a homicide detective on a mission to take down a crime boss leads him into a cursed forest only to be assaulted by a werewolf? We get a struggle between good and evil, both coming from the same character.

This would be a great vehicle for an actor wanting to take the werewolf genre back from the embarrassing Teen Wolf and Twilight generation. It’s a genuinely good cop story, to boot.

Not to be confused with the Canadian horror comedy WolfCop films which have nothing at all to do with this book.

By the way, Mr. Klavan, isn’t this one supposed to be a trilogy? I’m ready to read the next one when you’re ready to write it.

Yes, I would love to see some of these wonderful stories finally come to life for others to discover. Even if they don’t live up to expectations, at least we readers can have another reason to recommend our favorite stories to others by saying:

“The book was better. You should read it.”

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