The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

My Opinion:

I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.

Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).

Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

My Opinion:

I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.


In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.

Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….

And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!) 😉

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This Is 40, Admission & Bad Grandpa Movie Reviews

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Time to start getting more movies off my “Reviews To Do” list! Since starting this blog, I feel like I must review absolutely every single movie I watch. I’ve put off reviewing some because I just don’t have much to say about them (especially things like throwaway comedies & the occasional chick flick) so I’ll start reviewing movies like these together every now & then. Most movies like these are ones I watched in 2014 so I’m a little behind. But they’re on my list! I gotta do them!!! 😉

So here are three quickies! One was boring, one was okay, and one I really enjoyed.

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This Is 40 (2012)

Directed by Judd Apatow

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Albert Brooks

My Opinion: This is the one that was okay. I watched This Is 40 at least a year ago & remember thinking something along the lines of “I enjoyed that but I better review it quick because I won’t remember much of it in a year”. Ha! It’s true. For example: That annoying Melissa McCarthy was in this? Really?? And I forgot that the even more annoying Megan Fox was in this. Well, I watched this for Paul Rudd. If it had been a different male star, I doubt I’d have bothered.

I have yet to love anything from Judd Apatow. I feel like I should as I suppose I’m the sort of target age range for his stuff? I don’t know… Who here is a huge Apatow fan? What am I missing? Looking at what he’s written and/or directed, I did like The 40 Year-Old Virgin and remember that pretty well even though it’s much older and I only saw it once. This Is 40 is probably my second favorite but considering I only remember certain parts of it a year later doesn’t say much for it, I guess.

I liked Rudd, as always, but this wasn’t exactly my favorite ever character of his. He & Leslie Mann were fine but there was maybe a little too much of the “Oh god! I’m 40 & having a midlife crisis!” thing going on. I liked the family as a whole & they felt like a real-life family. Of course, it probably helps that the kids are the real-life daughters of Apatow & Mann but the Hollywood nepotism thing and Apatow’s insistence on always casting his borderline-annoying wife is, like the characters in This Is 40, getting a little old.

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I do remember laughing a few times throughout this movie. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy but an observation on our relationships in life and, of course, growing old. It’s much more grown-up than some of Apatow’s other films and I can’t see as many people enjoying it unless they’re approaching or past the big Four-Oh. For the most part, I think this was a pretty well-written film and I liked the different sorts of relationships between the three generations of both Rudd’s & Mann’s families. It’s just a “watch it once and you have no need to watch it again” type of film. I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan of any of the stars or the director AND you’re at least 35.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Admission (2013)

Directed by Paul Weitz

Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Lily Tomlin

My Opinion: This is the boring one of these three movies. As you can see, it’s Paul Rudd again and I only watched it because he’s in it. This is one of those damn “dramedy” romance movies. Dramedies sometimes work but this one didn’t have much comedy and I didn’t care enough about Tina Fey’s character to give a shit about her drama. Like This Is 40, this is a more grown-up movie for a slightly older audience but the forced quirkiness of some of the characters and Tina Fey’s uptight Princeton admissions officer just didn’t work for me.

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Paul Rudd was his usual adorable, likeable self but I’ll admit he always plays the same character (which is fine if you like him like I do). I’ve never really been a fan of Tina Fey, who also plays her usual self, so I can’t say I liked her character (which isn’t good as she’s the main star & the film centers on her career & relationship struggles). Nat Wolff was in this, who played the slightly annoying friend in The Fault In Our Stars and has the lead role in the next John Green adaptation coming out (Paper Towns, a book I really didn’t like so it’ll be interesting to see if the movie is any better). I did like Lily Tomlin as Fey’s mother and Wallace Shawn had a small role as Fey’s boss. It always gives me warm fuzzies just hearing his distinctive voice… “Inconceivable“! This is one of those movies that just tries too hard to be intelligent & serious and ends up feeling fake & forced. To be fair, romantic dramedy isn’t my favorite genre in the first place but this one just didn’t work for me at all.

My Rating: 5/10

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, A bunch of unsuspecting victims

My Opinion: Well, damn – I thought this was hilarious. Why am I ashamed to admit that?! I’ve thought all the Jackass movies were a riot. They’re not the sort of movies I’ve ever felt the need to watch more than once but they’re entertaining as hell on a first watch when you don’t know what kind of outrageous stuff to expect. I don’t really get why I like them as, in real life, I hate dumbass guys who do childish, idiotic things. I guess you have to give Johnny Knoxville credit for making a career out of it – he earns way more money than I do!

It was kind of weird at first how they acted out this fictional story of “grandpa & grandson” but I think it worked and, in the end, it was actually sort of sweet in a weird, f*%ked up kind of way. Johnny Knoxville was also in the movie Fun Size with the kid (Jackson Nicoll) and the kid was the best thing about that strange but somewhat enjoyable Nickelodeon movie. This kid cracks me up but I can’t say I’d ever let my kid hang out with any of the Jackass guys… Ha! Talk about bad role models!

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Anyway, I never thought I’d find explosive diarrhoea (UK spelling, FYI) or an old man’s testicles funny but what really works in this movie, I guess, is the shocked reactions from the poor bastards they play their pranks on. Looking at photos for this post I was reminded again of the pageant bit… Hahaha! Why do I like these juvenile Jackass movies?!? I should be ashamed. But I’m not!

My Rating: 7/10

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Review

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The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Directed by Josh Boone

Based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Starring:
Shailene Woodley
Ansel Elgort
Nat Wolff
Laura Dern
Sam Trammell
Willem Dafoe

Running time: 125 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-years-old cancer patient who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with Augustus Waters, portrayed by Ansel Elgort.

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My Opinion:

I read this book last year (you can see my review HERE) and I liked it a lot. It was my first John Green book and I thought he did an excellent job bringing these characters to life and making us care about them (I’ve just finished my second John Green book, Paper Towns. Hmm… Not as much of a fan of that one. He’s a very talented writer, though – I’ll certainly read more from him).

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It’s annoying when they don’t do a good job adapting books into films but, at least as far as YA books go, they’ve been doing a damn good job with some of them lately. I think The Hunger Games films have been great so far (especially Catching Fire) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is still one of my favorite films of the past few years and was an extremely faithful adaption (helps that the author made the film himself – I also reviewed the book HERE). Well, I’m very happy to say they did an amazing job with the adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars and I really have no complaints. Some things were left out as usual due to length, such as a bit about Augustus’ life prior to meeting Hazel, but I don’t think it was necessary for the film anyway.

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Shailene Woodley was good as Hazel (when I reviewed Divergent I wondered if maybe this movie would suit her better. I was right – The Fault In Our Stars feels more like the right kind of role for her). However, the true star here is Augustus Waters (played by Ansel Elgort). I’m an old lady reading YA fiction but can TOTALLY understand young readers falling completely in love with the character of Augustus. He’s charming, funny, cheeky, confident, handsome… the kind of boy teenage girls dream of, in other words. Luckily, I think Ansel Elgort captures this character and I’m sure he has loads of young female fans now. And there’s a great chemistry with Woodley so it’s very easy to get sucked into the story and believe that they’re a couple. I really can’t find fault with anyone cast in this film – they all played their roles well. The best friend of Augustus was made maybe a little too “funny” for the movie but that’s a very minor complaint – he was kind of the “comic relief” in the book as well.

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Summary:

If you loved the book, you’ll love the film. It’s an extremely faithful adaptation and, having enjoyed the book, I’m very happy with what they’ve done with the film. I don’t think anyone was miscast and I’d find it very surprising if you’re a YA-aged female who doesn’t fall in love with the character of Augustus Waters after watching this movie (and/or reading the book). However, although I love reading Young Adult fiction, “teenage melodrama” isn’t normally my genre of choice for the most part (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower being an exception). So the film probably deserves a slightly higher rating than what I’m going to give it but I rate based on a combination of personal opinion as well as “worthiness” (I feel I have to explain myself after you all picked on me for my Godzilla rating). 😉 It’s not a movie I’ll necessarily ever watch again but if I was a teenager right now I’d probably watch it over & over & over and declare it the best movie ever. It’s a very good YA film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**I’ve become a member of The Stone Cold Bitch Club as I shed no tears while watching The Fault In Our Stars (I do find some movies to be tearjerkers, though – you can see my list HERE).

Here are some reviews of The Fault In Our Stars from other WordPress bloggers:

Stone Cold Bitch Club:

Me!
Zoe
Cara
Abbi
Rob

Crybaby Club:

Melissa
Tom
Box Office Buzz
Natalie
Natasha
Anna

In Between Club:

Mike

Which club do YOU belong to? Let me know! If you’ve reviewed this, I’ll add a link to your review above under the correct category. 🙂

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Stuck In Love (2012) Review

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Stuck In Love (2012), aka Writers (Canada), aka A Place For Me (Australia)

Directed by Josh Boone

Starring:
Jennifer Connelly
Greg Kinnear
Lily Collins & her eyebrows
Logan Lerman
Kristen Bell
Liana Liberato
Nat Wolff

Plot Synopsis:
A family of mostly writers (author Greg Kinnear, ex-wife Jennifer Connelly, and their children Lily Collins & Nat Wolff) are affected by the highs & lows of life and love in various ways.

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My Opinion:

I’d never heard of this film when I went to it early one day recently (Didn’t know it was a senior citizen showing. That was awesome. It was so quiet and I haven’t felt so young in a long time!). Apparently it came out in Canada in 2012 under the title Writers? Then the US in July and finally the UK now on what appeared to be a very limited release.

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Anyway – I quite liked this film. Not sure why it got no attention. I always find “authors” interesting as I’d love to be one (but would have to actually have any sort of writing ability in the first place).

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Greg Kinnear is the father and the author of a well respected book. His marriage to Jennifer Connelly fell apart a few years ago but he wants her back & still sets a place for her at the Thanksgiving table every year despite the fact that she has re-married. He pushes his children (maybe a little too hard) to be writers as well. The daughter (Lily Collins) is just about to have her first book published. She’s very bitter & has no interest in anything other than casual relationships after watching her parents’ marriage fall apart (which she blames entirely on her mother & is punishing her by no longer talking to her). The son (Nat Wolff) is a sensitive teenager obsessed with Stephen King and desperate for a girlfriend. I loved the Stephen King thing here as I love his stuff – it’s an added little treat for King fans.

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To be honest, this story is pretty predictable every step of the way. There’s nothing exactly new or original here. But it works. Sometimes films like these work as long as you buy into the characters and care about what happens to them. I’d definitely recommend it as a nice weekend afternoon film. Logan Lerman is in this as a boy trying to win the affection of icy Lily Collins. I’ve loved him ever since The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and he’s totally loveable here too. Lily Collins is fine and the movie is good enough that I wasn’t at all distracted by her eyebrows. I loved the sad story of Kinnear’s & Connelly’s marriage, where all isn’t as it seems. And the son’s story is very predictable but he’s so likeable that you really want the best for him. The only annoying character in the film is Kristen Bell (but I always find her annoying). Her character does have a purpose, though.

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So…. I liked this. No complaints. I recommend it to anyone who thinks it sounds like their type of thing. Good human stories about characters that feel very real.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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