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:

  1. 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.”
  2. What’s with this cheesy voice over? Jack Kerouac sounded youthful, exuberant, nice, and even joyful. This guy sounds like a butthead.
  3. Viggo Mortensen is perfect for Old Bull Lee. Nice choice. He’s the best part of the trailer.
  4. Does Neal really say in the book what he says in the trailer, about not understanding his own motives?
  5. 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.
  6. Again, why the voice over?
  7. 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.
  8. I’m still scared to see this movie.

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