Film adaptations rarely live up to the books that inspire them, even under the best of circumstances, and few genres seem to highlight this more than the unfortunately named “chick lit.”
Since “Borrowed” seems to be headed for straight the genre’s FAIL bin, we’ve come up with an alternative viewing list of the female-driven books that ended up besting expectations — and, for balance’s sake, a few stinkers from the undistinguished cannon of chic lit adaptions gone awry.
“The Devil Wears Prada”
The definitive chick lit success story, “Prada” injects Lauren Weisberger‘s 2003 fictionalized tell-all of her time working for Anna Wintour with the star power of Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, resulting in a mainstream movie that won over most critics and bested box office expectations. It almost hit $125 million while in release and its afterlife on cable continues to be our go-to cure for channel-surfing.
“Bridget Jones Diary”
Solidifying Ren�e Zellweger as one of the biggest female stars of her generation, it’s “Diary’s” leading men that makes it an Anglophile’s dream come true. No one should ever have to choose between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. No one.
“Anywhere But Here”
We did not read Mona Simpson‘s book of the same name, but if you’re ever interested in watching some absolutely stand-out acting, add this mother-daughter drama starring Susan Sarandon and an 18-year-old Natalie Portman to your Netflix queue. It’s beautiful, depressing and wonderfully ’90s.
“Fried Green Tomatoes”
Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker form the friendship of a lifetime (with intense lesbian overtones) in the Depression-era South, while Jessica Tandy, in one of her last roles, tells the story of their bond to a discouraged and neglected Kathy Bates, helping her find her happiness in the process — and making us cry more than John Boehner at a puppy funeral.
“Waiting to Exhale”
The big screen iteration of the Terry McMillan book, “Exhale” marks the pinnacle of Whitney Houston‘s career. And though we waver on whether or not it’s just a guilty pleasure, we’re pleased all the same. It also has boasts one of the greatest soundtracks ever, including our all-time favorite Brandy jam and music video, “Sittin’ Up in My Room.” (“Donald’s downstairs?” “Donald is downstairs.”)
“Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”
Rebecca Wells‘ “Sisterhood” ranks among the top-selling chick lit books of the past two decades, so when it finally became a movie 8 years after its 1996 release, we were wildly underwhelmed. Striving for the parallel storytelling of “Fried Green Tomatoes,” the movie feels long and silly, with little more to offer than the dependably brilliant Ellen Burstyn.
“Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”
Lightening did not strike twice for the “Jones” franchise. The sequel undermines the happy conclusion of the first film, deviating severely from the book and even including different endings for the U.S. and U.K. versions. Despite all that — and crumby box office receipts — the offer remains on the table for a third installment, with Zellweger and Firth both expressing interest in the possibility.
“Eat, Pray, Love”
We’ll Pass, Thanks. Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Oprah-approved tome ended up being a shallow, lifeless mess under the direction of “Glee” maestro Ryan Murphy. At least we can thank all of those heavily rotated trailers for introducing us to Florence and the Machine.
“Someone Like You”
In the entirely unscientific adaptation of Laura Zigman‘s “Animal Husbandry,” stars Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman suffer on screen for 97 minutes of bad writing and zero chemistry. We really only remember our original theatrical viewing of “Someone Like You,” because it coincides with the moment we started to hate Greg Kinnear.
“Confessions of a Shopaholic”
Worst recession marketing ever. The only thing funny about 2009’s “Shopaholic” was its timing — and no offense to author Sophie Kinsella (real name Madeleine Wickham), but we find the whole concept of her literary franchise a little outdated and insulting to ladies.