Why My Standards For the ‘Looking For Alaska’ Movie Are Much Higher Than They Were For ‘The Fault In Our Stars’

lfaEarlier this month saw the release of the film adaptation of what has been called the “best love story of the decade.  The Fault In Our Stars follows the romance between two teenagers with cancer.  The novel, penned by acclaimed young adult author John Green, has grown widely in popularity since production on the film began last year.  Green himself has become somewhat of a celebrity, walking the red carpet with TFIOS cast members Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff, appearing on late night television, and becoming an important factor in bringing the TFIOS movie to life.  If anything, 2014 so far has been the year of John Green (and perhaps Shailene Woodley).

So naturally, it makes sense for 20th Century Fox to start work on a film adaption for another one of Green’s novels, Paper Towns.  The novel follows a group of high school seniors as they attempt to find their missing friend who ran away from home.  It includes a mystery, a road trip, and like all John Green novels, important lessons about life.  To me, it makes total sense for the same studio behind TFIOS to release a Paper Towns flick with Nat Wolff at the head of the cast.

What I probably didn’t expect was for Paramount to announce today that they are starting work on a Looking For Alaska movie adaptation.  The movie rights were purchased by Paramount nine years ago, but no plans for a movie were ever developed.  Until now.

While Looking For Alaska is Green’s first novel and arguably one of his most popular books, it’s seemed to have been left in the dust with all the attention that TFIOS and Paper Towns have been receiving lately.  The coming-of-age novel is set in a boarding school in Alabama where 16-year-old Miles “Pudge” Halter goes to seek a “great perhaps.”  Along the way, he meets the spontaneous, sometimes moody, and daring Alaska Young.

I might be a little biased here because LFA was the first John Green novel that I’ve read, but I would argue that it’s Green’s best book to date.  There’s definitely a reason TFIOS has gotten the hype it’s had, but LFA,  to me, is the better book.  It’s like TFIOS‘s much cooler, indie-loving older brother who doesn’t get as much attention from his parents, but is ultimately the better sibling anyway.

TFIOS was by no means a big budget film.  Compared to its Tom Cruise sci-fi competitor Edge of Tomorrow, its $12 million budget was measly.  That being said, I still picture a LFA movie adaptation as being very low budget, and having a very indie feel to it.  TFIOS was a relatively low budget movie, but with its hype and the increasing popularity of Shailene Woodley, it felt like a much bigger film.  Maybe it was just the hype, but I can tell you right now, I definitely do not want a LFA movie giving off the same type of feelings that TFIOS gave.

The TFIOS movie was far from perfect.  I loved the book, but the movie adaptation fell a little short.  It was mostly faithful to the book, but left some key stuff out, and seemed to focus on more of the love story than some of the important themes presented in the novel.  That being said, after seeing the movie twice, I still fairly enjoyed it and was happy to have seen it.  I was happy it was made into a movie.

The problem with it?  The romanticism that is now associated with being terminally ill and in love.  The fangirling over the suave Augustus Waters.  All the hype.

To me, LFA deserves so much better than that.  Everything from how the characters are written, to the underlying themes, to the way it’s written, to the story being told, it just deserves better.  If LFA were to be given the same quality movie adaptation that TFIOS was given, I would be upset.  Because the source material is better and the novel is written in such a way that demands higher standards than its slightly less cool younger brother counterpart.

When I picture a movie version of LFA, (now I know this is weird, but stay with me) I picture a very low budget indie movie with relatively unknown actors and very little hype.  To me, that is exactly the kind of adaptation it deserves.  That’s what it should be.  After seeing so many great indie coming-of-agers (The Spectacular Now, anyone?), I feel like it would be the best way to go.  It deserves to be an acclaimed adaptation very much appreciated by a select few.  Not just a YA adaptation cash cow for a big movie studio.

I have to say that if John Green does anything right, it’s the endings to his novels.  After being a little disappointed in how the very end to TFIOS played out, I can only hope that the last few pages of Looking For Alaska, some of the most beautifully written pages of any novel I’ve ever read, play out just as great on screen.  Like the rest of the novel, it deserves the very best, and I hope when the time comes for the flick’s release about two years from now, I’ll leave the theater very happy.

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