The Book Was Better Do you even read, bro? Contestants identify book-to-film adaptations based on real, scathing online reviews.
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The Book Was Better

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The Book Was Better

The Book Was Better

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JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from The Bell House in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Yay. Hello, everybody.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yes. So we have an amazing show for you. Four brilliant contestants are here to play our nerdy games. They're backstage asking Alexa what she would like to listen to for a change.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And then they'll be up here playing our nerdy games. And one of them will become our big winner. And we have two amazing guests from "RuPaul's Drag Race" - Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: So exciting - you have to - so we can all agree that drag has never been more popular. And maybe we're running out of drag names because there's so many people doing drag now. I mean, in the - way back in the '90s, they were all punny, right? It was like Anita Cocktail, Hedda Lettuce. You know you've reached peak drag queen when you have the name Bob the Drag Queen.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Like, we're getting close. We're getting close. Like, what's the next step? Just the name - like, oh, I can't wait to see our next act. Please welcome Mark Epstein. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's just what it is. And following her, we'll have man in dress. We're really...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Getting meta about this.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I find that the fast, dirty way to formulate your own drag name is simply just to take whatever was last written on your Starbucks cup. That would make me, by the way, Oprah room for milk...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Which - not bad, not bad.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What would yours be, Jonathan?

COULTON: Probably Jon small soy.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jon small soy.

COULTON: Jon small soy.

EISENBERG: Oh.

COULTON: What are you going to do? - if the shoe fits.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I think we all do drag to a certain extent. If you don't believe me, here's what I pose to you. Do you wear the same thing to a job interview as you do when you're in bed with a box of wine watching "The Great British Bake Off?"

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: No. Why would you be wearing my prom dress to your job interview?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I have to say tonight's games are going to be pretty hard. We have a game based on the idea that the book is always better than the movie.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Yeah. It's brought to you from that guy who's like, oh, really? You don't know that band? Oh, yeah. They've been around for a while.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So glad I'm not dating in Brooklyn anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: The Super Bowl is this weekend.

(CHEERING)

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah - or as most NPR listeners call it, an even quieter day at the library.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. We hope that this is going to be a lot of sparking joy. And we thank you for your service for being here, everybody. In the words of Marie Kondo, let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: Our first two contestants will play a game where people complain about books that were made into movies, like when your favorite character looks different in the film than it did in your head. That was my problem with "Garfield: The Movie."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: He looked really creepy.

COULTON: Was that your - that was your only problem with Garfield.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I know. Everything else - amazing. First up, Mariah Black - you're working on a competition for high school musicals.

MARIAH BLACK: I am.

EISENBERG: And of the high school musicals that are being staged right now, what's the most popular?

BLACK: Oh, my God. So many high schools are doing "Mamma Mia" this year (laughter).

EISENBERG: Really?

BLACK: Yeah.

EISENBERG: That must be, like, some sort of rights thing.

BLACK: Yeah.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

BLACK: The rights just became available.

EISENBERG: That's it.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Mariah, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Katie Brigham. As a child, you were a Fisher-Price model.

KATIE BRIGHAM: Baby model.

EISENBERG: Baby model - OK, so what toys did you model for?

BRIGHAM: I was on a house that had, like, a slide that came down the side. I was on a baby monitor. I still have the box for that.

EISENBERG: You were the baby on the baby monitor.

BRIGHAM: I was the happy baby not the crying baby or the sleeping baby.

EISENBERG: Good for you. Good for you.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Did you get extra toys when you were a kid?

BRIGHAM: We got toys. And we got compensated, which they don't do now.

EISENBERG: OK. And so I'm sure amongst your friends when you were a kid, you had some cool toys.

BRIGHAM: Well, you age out at, like, 3 or 4.

EISENBERG: Oh.

BRIGHAM: And they kick you to the curb. So it was a very limited...

EISENBERG: Wow.

BRIGHAM: ...Time frame.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGHAM: Too old for the industry.

EISENBERG: Yeah, at three, right?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Not happy enough, baby.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I understand. Katie, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Mariah and Katie, whoever has more points after two games will go to our final round. This trivia game is called The Book Was Better. Jonathan and I will read you real, online complaints about movies based on books. You just ring in and identify the film. Here we go. The room that Danny is warned about, room 217 in the book, is changed to 237 in the movie. Why?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Mariah.

BLACK: "The Shining."

EISENBERG: That's right, "The Shining."

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This movie absolutely was not faithful to the graphic novel. It was instead a parody of the graphic novel and a prime example of why Alan Moore said it should never be made. I don't miss the squid, though. If there was one thing Zack Snyder changed for the better, it was the squid-less ending.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Mariah.

BLACK: The "Watchmen."

COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: In the book, Oprah's character doesn't materialize for a long time. The classic bald Pegasus is not present, replaced by a brightly colored leaf kite dragon.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Mariah.

BLACK: "A Wrinkle In Time."

EISENBERG: That is correct. Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We all know, by the way, that Oprah materializes whenever she wants.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Read the book. I wish the people who wrote the screenplay would have. Lois Lowry understands that a creepy authoritarian state is more effective the more insidious it is. The movie, however, is blunt and ham-fisted.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Mariah.

BLACK: "The Giver."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

EISENBERG: The movie so freely adapts the book that really all that remains of the book's plot is a ghost of a germ of an idea about a puritan woman who gets pregnant by someone who is not her husband. And that's about where the similarity ends.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Katie.

BRIGHAM: The Bible.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Yeah. There is a woman who gets pregnant in that book.

BRIGHAM: Yeah.

COULTON: That's true.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That is incorrect but should get style points.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Mariah, can you steal?

BLACK: "Easy A."

EISENBERG: Good guess. We were looking for "The Scarlet Letter."

COULTON: Every detail from Capote's brilliant and delicately balanced novella was butchered. Almost every detail altered key characters; settings and scenes completely omitted. And even the period 1943 changed to 1961 with all its nauseating chic fashions.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Mariah.

BLACK: "Breakfast At Tiffany's."

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: They might have followed the three laws of robotics and used plot elements from Asimov's book, but they threw the basic laws of physics out the window.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Mariah.

BLACK: "I, Robot."

EISENBERG: Yeah, you got it. That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This is your last clue. It was the weirdest things that they would change, like Bella's prom outfit in the end where she wears converse where in the book they describe in detail what she is wearing down to the one stiletto on her undamaged foot.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Katie.

BRIGHAM: "Twilight."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I'm just saying, I would put the stiletto on my damaged foot.

COULTON: I'm sure you would.

EISENBERG: I just think that's practical. Yeah, you would use your undamaged foot to hobble.

COULTON: To walk around.

EISENBERG: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right, great game. Mariah is in the lead.

(APPLAUSE)

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