There’s a new film adaptation of On The Road. Like a lot of people, this was a super important book to me when I was 16. I must have read it 20 times or so in high school. When I tried to re-read it a couple years ago, though, I found that I couldn’t. The reality of the book itself didn’t hold a candle to the memories of what it meant to me at a certain point in my life.
That being the case, I was worried when I heard there was a film adaptation of the book. When you have such a complicated past with a book, approaching it again (especially in a different medium), can be a strange experience. And so if I’m nervous about re-reading the book, I’m twice as nervous about seeing the movie: if the original book can’t stand up to my memories, how will a film adaptation?
My fears weren’t assuaged by the trailer.
Here are a few rapid reactions to it:
- Neal and Jack were poor, and they looked it. These kids look rich. They look like they’re on break from Sarah Lawrence, on a 2-day road trip to Cleveland to discover “real America.”
- What’s with this cheesy voice over? Jack Kerouac sounded youthful, exuberant, nice, and even joyful. This guy sounds like a butthead.
- Viggo Mortensen is perfect for Old Bull Lee. Nice choice. He’s the best part of the trailer.
- Does Neal really say in the book what he says in the trailer, about not understanding his own motives?
- Kristen Stewart makes a kind of awesome Marylou, but shes a bit skinny. She’s missing the “buxom,” but she looks about the right age.
- Again, why the voice over?
- I hope I’m wrong, but I was always worried that if a movie adaptation was made, they would play up the “exciting” parts of the book, to the detriment of the spiritual parts. I guess I was afraid it would be a movie about kids out having fun and doing drugs, instead of a sometimes lonely and painfully gloomy but overall spiritually joyous voyage through America’s mysterious identity. Hard to tell, since trailers always play up soap-opera melodrama and mindless action, so I’ll have to reserve my judgement for now.
- I’m still scared to see this movie.