“I may be uncomfortable, but I refuse to be ashamed.”
Confession: I watched the movie first.
I knew it was going to be longer and more spread out in the book since that’s how it usually is, like for say, a romantic relationship. Still, the movie made me wonder how much was changed.
If you don’t know, this isn’t a review or either but me merely comparing them and noting the changes, whether they’re good or bad.
But just to get it out there: I enjoyed both and for similar yet separate reasons. If you read the book, I recommend watching the movie and vice versa.
Onto it, and of course, spoilers.*
A Good Adaptation
When it comes to changes, even though there are some, the movie follows the book pretty much beat by beat: Willowdean talks about her Aunt Lucy and their love for Dolly Parton, her relationship with Ellen, Bo, and eventually her pageant friends, they go to a drag show and eventually have the pageant. I was actually surprised how close it kept to the source material.
The message also stayed the same. That you don’t need to look a certain way to do anything in life and should be accepted no matter what you weigh.
Still, that doesn’t mean everything stayed the same.
No Love Triangle
I wasn’t prepared to read that Will has another “love” interest in the book. I use quotation marks because I’m talking about Mitch, a boy who has an interest in Will and whom she tries to show affection for as well, but just can’t match that spark she has with Bo…who I’ll talk about in a second.
In the end, taking Mitch out of the story didn’t make an impact or take anything away. He wasn’t part of the main plot but was merely there to help Will during a time she felt she had no friends. But as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of love triangles, I wasn’t sad about it.
If you love Will and Bo’s relationship in the movie, I highly recommend the book because it takes up a good chunk of it. Rather than the few scenes in the movie, they have a relationship for months which includes making out at the dumpster behind work. It turns into Will believing she doesn’t belong with Bo, same with the movie, and Bo tells her he doesn’t care, same with the movie. It just drags it out and allows them to bond. We also learn more about Bo and his home life.
“I Never Thought of You as Fat”
Is what I wish Ellen told Will in the book. Their friendship and fight are similar, but in the book, as soon as Ellen signs up, Will is against it, and I can understand why, but Ellen sees it as Will being selfish. And, to me, their fight is way harsher in the book and is fueled by Callie.
Side note, if you didn’t like Callie in the movie, she’s a lot worse in the book, calling Will out for her weight and telling her she’s holding Ellen back.
I never got the feeling in the movie Ellen was truly mad at her, they just didn’t talk it out, but in the book, she legit wouldn’t stay in the same room with Will if given the chance, and I just didn’t get why. Sure they say they’re drifting, but I still didn’t see it that way. Ellen did admit to wanting approval from other people, like Callie, so at least there was something to it. But half the time I would just yell, “Oh get over it.”
But they are teenagers and will fight over stupid shit and both are stubborn.
Rather than drag this out into even more paragraphs, I’m just going to go down a list.
- Rosie is much harsher to Will in the book about her weight. Sure she mentions it a few times in the movie, wanting her to be healthy, but you can tell it bothers her in the book. I never felt she was actually embarrassed by Will in the movie.
- Another Rosie change: I liked watching her react to Will’s pageant performance and obviously being proud of her. I liked their talk when Will was disqualified, but in the book, I didn’t feel that. She just comes across as mad that Will changed her talent.
- The drag queens play a much bigger part in the movie and helping them prepare.
- Will’s relationship with the queens also felt closer in the movie.
- The book takes place over summer and into fall, around Thanksgiving. The movie is a few months if that? Not a complaint, just noting the time difference.
- Lucy in the book was someone who stayed home and didn’t want people seeing her. Lucy in the movie was confident and not signing up for the pageant wasn’t like her.
- The relationship Will has with Hannah and Millie is very similar. They bond and grow closer, although Hannah’s attitude is a bit toned down in the movie.
When it comes to the characters, specific scenes, and staying true to the original story, this is probably one of the better adaptations I’ve seen. Some things I liked in the movie over the book, like Ellen and Will’s relationship, others I preferred in the book, like Will and Bo’s moments.
I feel like the book paid more attention to Will and Bo, while the movie paid more attention to Will and the pageant. Either one is fine. Important points weren’t taken out of the movie so they’re not huge changes.
Although I can’t understand Will completely, as someone with body issues, I still get her when she feels down or bad about herself. I feel that a lot of people will resonate with Will and her insecurities, even if ours are different.
“I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to.”
Like I said, I enjoyed each for their own reasons and would read and watch either again. The message is strong, the characters feel real and relatable and is a different story than ones we’ve seen before.
And it’s such a huge step-up from my last verses of The Last Airbender. If you enjoyed this, pray for me as I attempt to do one on the live-action versus cartoon, Kim Possible.