Jeez Louise. The Scarlet Letter is mind-boggling. Patrick took a lot on his shoulders concerning the movie, so I’ll speak mostly on behalf of the book and its adaptation. I generally like reading literature and thought I would love reading a masterpiece. This masterpiece was not exactly what I was expecting. It’s 200 pages of roundabout descriptions of the same thing over and over for chapters at a time. No one talks to each other… like ever. In short, it’s beautifully written but super, duper boring. I’m not even trying to insult the book (I still thought it was great), it’s just a fact. Hawthorne wrote a super boring book. I feel bad for all the high school students in the world that have to read it. All will not like it, some will cliffnotes the book just to get it over with, and the legendary few will watch this godawful film adaptation in its stead and fail… hard.
Speaking of which, this is easily the most hilarious adaptation in the history of film. Even knowing that Hollywood used to do adaptation like this all the time (take a known property, use just the barebones outline, and create a story of their own around that) doesn’t make this any less hilarious. The fact of the matter is that this film is more a prequel that an adaptation. If it had been marketed as such it may have been more evenly appraised (probably not, cause even beyond the adaption this is hilarious garbage). I wouldn’t even have called it The Scarlet Letter. Maybe something like A Scarlet Morning, to make the connection to the book with the implication of the impending storm. Further, having all the prequel stuff wouldn’t even have been all that bad if they didn’t shift a lot of blame from Rev. Dimmesdale to Hester in the movie (which kind of goes against the entire concept of the book). In order to make the movie a romance they had to have the Reverend less of a pathetic coward and more of sexy Oldman (cause what screams innate sexuality more than Gary Oldman?). In order to do that, Dimmesdale would have to do his damnest to admit guilt to the community, only stopping himself at the behest and insistence of Hester. He would scream to the heavens, ‘Damn you, Hester! Why hast though not let me unburden myself of this guilt which eats at my soul!’ and we would feel bad for him and love him all the more and hate that stupid Hester that tempted our sexy Oldman. We become the hypocrites the book rails against. Finally, the ending is a wonder to behold. Rather than have pathetic and cowardly Dimmesdale admit guilt and die in shame (SPOILER ALERT for all those still living in the 19th century), we have him and Hester rescued by an Indian attack as we sit and cheer at the gruesome deaths of our forefathers. It is absurd. This movie has a happy ending… and it is a travesty. I’ve never seen anything like it.
The only thing I’ll add to this is that I saw a lot of reviews talk about how Demi Moore was “miscast” in this film and seems out of place but can “sure fill out a costume” *lecherous laugh*. It honestly came off as super insulting. Like they were implying that an actress serious enough to play Hester Prynne wouldn’t look like her. What? Demi Moore literally fits the character’s description to a T. Hester is described as a beautiful, young woman with long dark hair who is fiercely independent and fiery… that’s Demi Moore. I’m not saying that Moore was good (in fact she was terrible). But to say that she was too pretty or sexy to play a serious role? That’s just demeaning. After all, we’re not talking a casting blunder like Selena Gomez in Getaway (reference no one gets but me and Patrick).
Since I spent some time defending the honor of Demi Moore (again, just want to make it clear: she was terrible in this), we don’t really have time for a game. Alls the better, since I’ve been getting back into MonoSklogs and this one didn’t have one (more accurately it had an amazing montage/MonoSklog combo that I couldn’t burn cause Netflix didn’t have the movie on DVD. Stupid Netflix). On with the show!
The Scarlet Letter? More like Genuinely the Worst Classic Book Adaptation Ever (I couldn’t figure out any rhymes). The Scarlet Letter. A book so boring it is notorious as a high school literature course tradition. A movie so poorly done it makes you question everything good in this world. Let’s get into it:
- It is almost not worth getting into just how poorly done this is as an adaptation (sorry “free adaptation” as prominently displayed in the opening credits) because this is one of the most noteworthy blunders in cinema history. Ebert included it among the movies he simply hates, and there is plenty of things to dislike beyond the adaptation. But it must be said:
- The first half of the movie predates the book, as if they said “Hey, this book about puritan hypocrisy … can we make it into a romantic drama?”. The book starts more than halfway through the overly long movie. Dumb
- Oldman’s character is a monster in the book, a hypocrite who wastes away with guilt, so cowardly as to eventually die as he admits his shame. In the movie he is a star crossed lover with a super hot bod and long greasy hair.
- They change nearly everything to attempt to gloss over Hester’s guilt. Hester knowingly cheated on her husband. Here she thinks he’s dead.
- In the end Hester wanders off to live her life alone in the book. Here they add a crazy “happy” ending involving Native Americans slaughtering all her enemies and she and Oldman go off to the Carolina’s to live happily ever after.
- Other things:
- Best bird performance since After Earth. I’m always into a good bird performance
- Gratuitous nudity and dong shots. I knew Nathaniel Hawthorne forgot something in the original literary classic. That something was Gary Oldman’s penis.
- Demi Moore’s accent is everything I could have dreamed of. When I first heard it my brain rejected it and I let out an audible “oh no”. No one escaped the terrible vortex created by this movie. Not even Gary Oldman (‘s penis).
- A sex scene so long and bizarre you forget what it is like to not be watching it. Conspicuous absence of a Gary Oldman dong shot here (alright, that’s enough about Gary Oldman’s penis).
- A sermon/monologue so long they had to cut it up and create the first church-sermon-montage in cinema history. The sermon monologue from Big Momma’s House is still the best though.
This movie is everything you could want in a Bad Movie Adaptation. It is the crown jewel of this rotation. I have a Remake for you: adapt the actual book into an actual movie. The end. It would probably still be boring, but at least it would add value to the world.
BTW August is a great Bad Movie Month. We’ve already got Fantastic Four (I can’t wait for the Fourth Fantastic Four disaster … actually, after everything being said about Miles Teller on set I have no doubt an actual sequel is going to be cancelled). I have a sneaking suspicious The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is going to be bad. And there are a few more coming our way soon enough. We are very quickly approaching the BMT Live! stage of the Razzie awards. Will we waste our time and money watching terrible movies in theaters? Stay tuned.