The Firm by John Grisham
The Firm with Tom Cruise
The book is about a lawyer, Mitch McDeere, who ends up working for a firm that is majorly corrupt. So is the movie, only, of course, different. As with any longish book that gets turned into a movie things are shortened and left out. The movie leaves off a lot of the beginning of the book when Mitch is getting to know the people and getting involved in the work and his attachment and involvement seem less because of it. It also shortens the time that the firm is talking to him before he takes the job and a few strange things happen that make you wonder why he took the job in the first place whereas in the book the warning signs were less obvious. Everybody’s character is slightly different in the book as well. For the most part it didn’t make too much difference to the plot but in the case of Avery, Mitch’s mentor, they made him a much more sympathetic character and it changed the whole feel of the relationship between him and Mitch and the way that it all played out. Of course, by that time they had changed so much other stuff that a few more things couldn’t have made any difference. There were little things like the fact that the FBI had to tell him things that he worked out for himself in the book and he worked things out for himself things that the FBI had to tell him in the book. And though there were more times in the movie that he was literally running from the bad guys the book was more suspenseful because everything was based on timing. But then there were bigger things too. Abby, Mitch’s wife, ended up playing a different part in the plan, the plan that Mitch comes up with is totally different, and most important, the ending was completely different as well. I thought at first the movie was trying to make the ending work out better for Mitch and Abby, have a slightly happier ending, but Mitch seems more bitter at the end of the movie than he did at the end of the book so I don’t think that was it. In fact, I think the book might have had a happier ending in the sense that the characters were happier. Once again I was left to wonder why the movie changed so much of the book. I understand that some things simply will not work in a movie and that there are time constraints and you want to make a movie more sensational and all of that but it isn’t like they are trying to hind the fact that the story has been done before. It is based on a book. It should be a story we have heard before. I was mad through the entire movie at the things that had been changed. Am I overreacting? Yes. I know I am. I don’t know why this particular book to movie conversion irritated me so much but it did. Maybe it’s because I felt like the story had potential as a movie but the actual movie didn’t cash in on any of it. Maybe I just don’t like Tom Cruise. Or that Gene Hackman (who I do like) had anything to do with this clunker. I don’t know. But watching this just confirmed for me that when I write my best selling novel I’m not going to let anyone turn it into a movie. I don’t want to see my carefully plotted novel ravaged and all my hard work thrown out the window. But since I will never write my novel I will just be indignant for those who have, since they don’t seem to be indignant themselves.
(In case there was any doubt, I'm on the side of the book here.)