Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Son of Bad Movie Movie Month

We continue our celebration of Bad Movies with one of the genre's most urksome offerings:The Bad Literary Adaptation. It's a time honored Hollywood tradition:turn one of your favorite books(or atleast a decent classic)into a Bizarro World version of itself.

Many will quickly point to such charmers as The Bonfire of the Vanities(a movie I actually booed at in the theater but will admit that I found Melanie Griffith's line"Sherman,where are all the white people?"amusing) or Simon Burch(the fact that they changed not only the original title,A Prayer for Owen Meany,but also the name of the title character is a clear sign of bad things to come)but for my money,Demi Moore's version of the Scarlet Letter is prime rib rankness.

Before you say"Hey,be fair! Demi didn't direct or write the screenplay",I must remind you of her brilliant statement that changing the plot wasn't a big deal because "not many people have read the book."Well,the Cliff Notes people might agree-their sales of Scarlet Letter notes would indicate that. Nevermind that there's been more than one film version,either-Demi knows best. Mind you,this is a woman who willingly dates Ashton Kutcher and takes him on double dates with her ex-husband,so can you blame me for doubting her judgment skills?

I was not forced to see SL when it was out but I couldn't resist;it drew me in like a driver slowing down to get a really good look at a major auto accident. Some things you just have to see for yourself to truly gauge the damage. I did read the book and liked it quite abit. Hawthorne is one moody sob-for a man who wasn't catholic,he certainly wore a hair shirt well.Guess that that whole story about guilt and accepting responsibilty wasn't dramatic enough for Demi,Roland Jaffe and co;naw,let's add some hot barn sex,a mute slave girl,Robert Duvall dancing around with a dead deer hat and oh,don't forget the indian attack!

Let's take the mute slave girl issue;first off Hester doesn't own a slave in the book and actually during the time period of the story,indentured servants were more of the rage. Even if she did own a slave,her name would not be Mituba. She would've been called Hope or Ellie,not some P.C. attempt at bringing up issues that have nothing to due with the plot. Of course,she's mute because what better way to add an unnessasary character than to not give her any dialogue and what better way to get rid of her than to have crazy Robert Duvall murder her to frame Gary Oldman which helps to bring in that Indian attack!

I do wonder if anyone assigned to read the Scarlet Letter ever used this movie to puff up their book report;I can only imagine the teacher's eyes bleeding as she reads about the "red" bird that leads Hester to the barn where she gets her bones jumped while Mituba takes a bath as the fake red bird watches(I truly pity the actress given the part of Mituba;hoped she changed agents after this movie). The bird looks like a canary that was attacked with a Magic Marker-you think a big budget film could've have afforded to hijack a cardinal or at least make a better looking obvious symbolic gesture.

The sad part is Demi Moore was really hoping to get some Oscar talk out of this but wound up being the belle of the Razzies ball that year. Cheer up,hon-maybe there'll be an even worse classic remake that will make your cinema diaster look quant,like a version of Moby Dick starring Jon Heder("Call me Ismael-Gosh!")perfecting his whaling skills,with Richard Gere as Captain Ahab and Hillary Duff as Queenie(gotta have a love interest). Hope I didn't give anyone any ideas there......

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