I know I could be risking much by reviewing this film, what with hosting a literature podcast and all, but hear me out. I like to judge a film (or a book for that matter) on whether or not the end goal was achieved.
For me, To Kill a Mockingbird is pretty much the pinnacle of book-to-film that you can find. Sure you lose 98% of the subplots and a lot of important subtext — but was the book represented in a way that did justice to it’s soul?
- It will be done in modern times.
- it will have humor (it’s a Ben Stiller production, after all).
- It will have a love interest, because–Hollywood.
- It won’t have an evil, bossy, wife, because–Um… Modern women?
- Somewhere Walter or someone will say “Topaketa-pocketa-pocketa…”
- It could be appalling.
The first four, dead on.
The fifth–woah!!! Now, I saw folks screaming for blood about this on FB, but my 13 year old made an astute observation while we listened to Stiller (very nicely) read the original story on the way home–Walter only includes that sound in his daydreams when he’s driving. It’s the rattle of his car engine.
This movie takes place largely in NYC—trains and walking… Not so much the car thing.
So, no Topaketa…
And the sixth?
The Hubs and I thought it was lovely. The kids (13 and 9.11) thought it was AWESOME! I thought it was some of Stiller’s best work—gentle and sad and sweet and smart. Yes it pushed the limits of reality in some parts—it is fiction—and the spirit behind it made me not care about the stuff that couldn’t possibly be.
I also thought Sean Penn was fantastic. Quiet and still and funny and light. When was the last time you saw that line written about him?
Soul of the original? Yes, mostly. A little less sad, not completely Thurber-y, but the daydreams were awesome. I thought the first five minutes would have been enough for me. The realities were a lot of fun too.
There you have it. My 2¢.