Here’s a great resource for Young Adult Books.
“ZOMBIELAND” – awesome. “EASY A” – completely charming!
Yes you guessed it – “BREAKFAST CLUB” is like the best movie ever. No really it’s in my top ten all time! Channeling my inner teen here, as much I thoroughly enjoyed “EASY A” and I think it’s the best-written teen movie I’ve seen in ten years at
least…that I can currently think of…nothing, I repeat nothing comes close to John Hughes’ masterpiece(s). Will Gluck, “EASY A’s” Director and Writer, Bert V. Royal, charmingly acknowledges their BC reverence with several references to the club. Nothing comes close to BC, there’s been no AD yet…
Why is that? The answer is what’s missing…which is perhaps a sign of the times that even comes up in “EASY A”. Prudes!!!!
Didn’t see that coming right!?!
Actually, it’s humiliation. Another word could be also vulnerability but let’s go with humiliation.
High school is all about humiliation and Hughes got that. Especially in BC where humiliation is raw and palpable. And it comes in the form of emotional humiliation, physical humiliation – even intellectual humiliation. It’s humiliating being a teenager with a growing awareness of life’s hardships, of being dictated to, constantly shepherded. Hughes best characters have artfully hidden their feelings of humiliation prior to the opening scene then Hughes slowly reveals them: Bender reveals a violence home life, Alison’s humiliation of being literally invisible, Brian’s humiliation at his father’s high expectations etc. It’s a confronting and recurrent theme that we all understand as teenagers. Hell everyone feels powerless at some point in their life.
Maybe things won’t turn out so good. Hughes provides a lifelike sense of the fleeting moments of life playing out like a movie. We all have moments when we are Ferris on that float singing danke shoene. But there are more moments when we turn out like Carl.
Gluck and Royal’s “EASY A” gives us a happy ending so required in today’s teen fodder…but also explained something about BC that I hadn’t seen before – that Bender’s hand in the air is his moment on the float – that one time in his life he gets the rich, beautiful girl…lovely! Both EASY A and BREAKFAST CLUB are worth revisiting.
I thought I’d also coin the term for a newish/oldish genre – Rom Fan – just to fully embrace my new egomaniacal pursuit.
“Romantic Fantasy…?” you say. It slips right off the tongue! A guilty pleasure for a non-young adult, though one at heart. Rom Fan’s are more than just Twilight, which in my opinion is poorly written and not the best example of the genre, just the most successful.House of Night is wonderful! It is terribly written and stuffed full of pop culture that will be obsolete in the next few moments. Writer’s note: It’s best to just come up with your own slang that way it won’t ever be passe. Clockwork Orange or Clueless are good examples.However, the series starting with Marked grabs you by the balls and won’t let go. It’s a roller coaster story that had me hooked on page one, it’s jammed packed with action, great characters and unique mythology. My fingers are crossed that my friend Michael will get this one up. Check out the HON website, it’s a great example of effective and integrated transmedia storytelling.
Having worked in film and TV for more than a decade, it took reading “HIS DARK MATERIALS” to find my calling to specialize in kids and YA entertainment. I was returned to childhood and the escape of new worlds in Pullman’s novels. I couldn’t believe that something so controversial was selling like hotcakes and to kids all around the world.
Over the years I have compiled an amazing list that expands and contracts as projects are adapted into films and new authors are published. This brings me to the point of the article. I, along with many kids, have been sorely disappointed by many adaptations. “THE DARK IS RISING” was ruined and strangely renamed “THE SEEKER”. What were they thinking? Why didn’t they honor the book?
I have the most distinct remembrance of a childhood experience – I saw a movie adaptation of a favorite book and all I could think about was why did they change it? Where was that sequences? Or that character that I loved so?
HARRY POTTER is the best example of honoring the book. If they hadn’t, the filmmakers would have been stoned to death by four-foot somethings worldwide. The movies satisfy because of the art of what is left out and congealed for emotional significance. It is the art of the YA adaptation! Children are unforgiving when it comes to change, and this fact continues to trip up adult development executives with verbal diarrhea and a need to have something to say, anything.
The adaptations that have in-artfully changed elements have performed terribly! “CIRQUE DU FREAK”, “THE SEEKER” to name two… They did not honor their audience and paid the price.
Narration brings our attention to the fact that someone is narrating from the future. Action is about tension, what will happen next, who will survive! Yes, the book was first person diary but for god’s sake you are making an action film! Know your genre!
Refer to my rule number 3 – just leave it out!
I love the real Avatar! The Nickelodeon TV series “AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER”…so let me count the ways in which the adapted movie by M. Night Shyamalan sucked.
1. Lacked darkness…both visually and thematically.
2. Absurdly rushed storytelling.
3. Horrible, excessive narration – that is totally unnecessary because we have all seen the series and loved it… Harry Potter has no narration and it’s as dense as a republican at a polling booth.
4. Music cues are completely off.
5. Decide who we are following – character-wise!
6. The most significant character moment, when Aang, Katara and Sokka become friends, is almost completely cut out, and the filmmaker misses out on creating actual relationships between its main characters!
7. Destroyed! One of the best characters on TV! Gone is jolly, esoteric wise man, Uncle. In the series he was fat, silly, fun, pretending to be out of it but was a true guide to his nephew in his hour of need.
8. Though I think the series was meant to be racially ambiguous most of the time, the casting was off complete. Have a plan man!
9. Just plain shit….
10. Broke my golden rule, and changed shit…. bloody idiots.
DON’T FRACKING CHANGE SHIT!*
Expand on an important moment to create emotional significance when it’s needed. Steven Kloves is the High King of this!
If in doubt, leave it out…and don’t fracking change shit.
* Just so we’re clear on Rule 1…you changed it, you fracked it.
Note: Please wait, hold your breath even, whomever you are, for my forthcoming blog, “The One Exception” for said exception…