When a movie is based on a book, there’s always debate about whether the book or the movie is the best version of the story. Too often, the focus is on classic and action literature — and comedies are neglected in these debates. I am guilty of that too, in my last books vs movies post, I don’t think I mentioned a single comedy (except of course for Bridget Jones’ Diary, which is my all-time fave).
You’d be surprised though how often comedic books translate beautifully to the silver screen. Here are some favorite funny movies full of heart and humor originally based on books.
Silver Linings Playbook
The 2012 film that saw wide release in 2013 when Jennifer Lawrence won the Academy Award for Best Actress, Silver Linings Playbook is a humorous and sensitive look at those suffering from mental illnesses and the effects it has on everyone around them. Bradley Cooper stars as Pat, a man with bipolar disorder recently released from a treatment center, who tries to win back his ex-wife.
Meanwhile, he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a young widow with mental issues and a rather blunt way of communicating with people. Tiffany agrees to help Pat impress his ex-wife, if he’ll enter a dance competition with her. With Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver co-starring, Silver Linings Playbook is a funny and sweet film based on a 2008 comedic novel.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
The 1996 novel Bridget Jones’ Diary was the inspiration for a couple of successful films starring Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, the first of which released in 2001. A modern and loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the film follows Bridget, a single British 30-something, as she decides to set goals for herself and keep track of her progress in her diary. Among those goals is finding Mr. Right, whom she hopes will be her attractive boss at the book publishing company where she works (Grant). Meanwhile, a rude and arrogant man from her past (Firth) seems to show up at every turn.
Postcards From the Edge
The 1987 novel Postcards From the Edge showed readers that Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, had a sense of humor when discussing her drug abuse and relationship with her famous mother (Debbie Reynolds) in this semi-autobiographical work of fiction. The 1990 film adaptation starred Meryl Streep as Suzanne, the Fisher stand-in and Shirley MacLaine as Doris, Suzanne’s mother. Roger Ebert praised the writing and the performances of the film, citing film’s strength as the relationship between mother and daughter.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
The 2009 film Confessions of a Shopaholic has its roots in a series of six Shopaholic books first published in 2000. Isla Fisher stars as Rebecca Bloomwood, a gardening magazine writer who dreams of becoming a fashion journalist. When a job interview for her ideal career doesn’t pan out but she’s given a chance to write for a magazine on saving money, she gives it a try hoping it will eventually lead to her dream job. She finds success as a fashion sale writer for the magazine, but her job is in trouble when it’s discovered she’s not a good example for her readers because she’s heavily in debt due to her shopping addiction.
This movie is perfect for those who enjoy romantic comedies heavier on the comedy aspect than the romance — although there’s a sweet thread of romance, too.
With a plethora of books aimed at teens in which young women fall in love with gorgeous supernatural men — vampires and werewolves particularly — Warm Bodies,” the novel released in 2010 as part parody of the trend and part heartwarming romance story, is a refreshing change of pace. In 2013, this book became a film starring Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult as Julie and R, a young woman trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse and the brain-eating zombie who falls in love with her.
With more than a little resemblance to Juliet and Romeo, Julie and R learn to communicate with one another and become friends, hoping to forge a peace between the living and the undead.
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, you can’t go wrong with any of these movies or the books that they’re based on. Read the book and watch the movie, then judge for yourself: Funny books are perfect sources for comedic movies. In the case of comedy, the book isn’t always better than the movie; they’re often both as good.
What are your favorite comedic book to movie adaptations?
Image of Silver Linings Playbook by Ma_Co2013 From Flickr’s Creative Commons
Image of Warm Bodies by Spencer Fornaciari From Flickr’s Creative Commons