i09 has got a list of 10 good books that became bad movies. Since it's i09, they are all sci-fi.
The what's-the-worst-movie-from-a-book exercise is a common one, and I think it's often fundamentally misguided. Often people who liked the book don't like the movie because it doesn't cover the same things, or changes plot lines, or develops characters differently. Such critics seem to ignore the fact that books and movies are fundamentally different art forms, and it's unreasonable to expect them to deliver in the same way. Nobody gets mad because the Goldfinger song doesn't describe the entire plot of the movie. (It's tough to find a rhyme for "Oddjob" that doesn't sound forced.) Very few purists get upset that the opera Otello ditches the entire first act of Shakespeare's play. But for some reason people figure that a movie ought to scratch the same itch that the book scratched, or vice versa. That's silly.
Good movies inspired by books tend to be unapologetically different. L.A. Confidential is one of my favorite movies, yet its plot, characterization, and tone are vastly different than the book. (I think you'd have to take a lot of very hard drugs to make, or appreciate, a movie that was actually "faithful" to one of James Elroy's books). It rises or falls on its own merits as a work of art that is no more like a book than a painting is like a symphony. Same with the Lord of the Rings series.
Nevertheless, if pressed for the book/movie pair that generated the greatest gulf in enjoyment, I'd probably name The Bonfire of the Vanities. Bonfire was a classic and seminal 80s work, and though its topical and social references have not aged well, its insights into human nature have. But the movie . . . . the movie. It was unbearably bad, the worst sort of bad, the bad that is not quite bad enough to cross into funny-campy like Plan 9 From Outer Space or something.
What book/movie combo has the greatest enjoyment delta for you?
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