Big Trouble

If you've never seen Big Trouble, you really should. It's a super funny movie based on the book of the same title. Though I guess I should add that reviewers and viewers either love it or hate it. It's just one of those movies. Be prepared for subtle, very sarcastic, and slapstick humor all rolled into one movie. Ever since I saw the movie the first time a couple of years ago I have wanted to read the book which I finally did last week. The book did not disappoint as sometimes happens. Interestingly, really good movies often were not so great books and really good books often make not so good movies.

One of my favorite hobbies, I guess you could call it, is to watch a movie, read the book, and read the script. It's a great tool to teach you basic storytelling and to see what is changed and what is the same. If the movie isn't based on a book try to read the original screenplay and see what has changed between the written word and what made it on screen.

Back to Big Trouble, the first half of the movie is pretty close to the book, but it's as you head into the second half that the smaller changes from the first half really begin to show. One being making one character more of a smart ass, making villains more stupid-scary than scary-stupid, turning two small roles into one larger role, giving the movie a central protagonist to play the part of the narrator from the book, and giving an overall theme that wasn't in the book.

None of these changes were bad, in fact they made for a better movie, because often what reads well does not translate to screen well. Very rarely does a book have what it takes to translate directly to screen and often times it actually isn't very good when they try to do that. I've analyzed each of the changes I noticed in Big Trouble and figured out why "I" think the screenwriters made the choices they did, but I realized shortly after trying to write this post yesterday that it would take pages and pages of writing to explain each change and why it made the movie more cohesive.

I highly recommend this exercise to anyone that wants to understand what works and what doesn't. One of my favorites is, watch the X-men movie (the first one) and then read the original screenplay. Check out the changes that were made. Do you think they made the movie better or weaker? What do you notice about the changes (hint, the hero's journey)? I freely admit that I haven't read many x-men comics so can't comment on the difference between the comics to the screenplay to the movie, but just the movie/screenplay combo is a great lesson on how small changes can really change the tone of a movie and make a reluctant hero more heroic.


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