Friday, February 25, 2011

An excellent comic-to-movie adaptation

I mentioned Ghost World by Daniel Clowes in an earlier post, and then found out that in 2001 they had made a movie out of it. The movie is a little along the lines of Napoleon Dynamite, in some respects, but with more dialogue and a grittier, more melancholy undertone.

That trailer is horrible, actually, it makes it seem like a cute quirky family movie, which it definitely is not. But it gives you the characters and the actors. The shirtless guy with the nunchucks is really excellent, that character's name is Doug and he is more or less my hero now. He's like a hipster, except he's not being ironic. He's the real deal. So awesome.

Then there's Steve Buscemi as Seymour. His performance as the eccentric collector is layered and saturated with a sort of resigned melancholy, very poignant, but still grimly humorous.

Thora Birch looks uncannily like her character Enid, and her straight-faced derision of everything is extremely believable.

Scarlett Johansson also looks scarily like Becky. She too manages the disaffected sort of apathy of a recently-graduated teen quite believably.

The movie deviates in plot from the comic book a good deal, but it is still within the realm of Ghost World in that it could have been written that way by Daniel Clowes. Since the director also did the documentary Crumb, about the underground comic icon Robert Crumb, it seems only fitting that in the credits are several thanks to Crumb and his wife Aline, as well as a credit to his daughter Sophie for the drawings in Enid's notebook. Clowes himself created a scrapbook for an imaginary fast-food joint known as Cook's Chicken within the movie.

As far as comics-to-movie adaptations, I am going to rank this as one of the best. The Dark Knight was good, too, and the aesthetics of Frank Miller's Sin City and 300 were both true to the artist's style. But as far as real human connection and an exploration of adolescence, Ghost World transcends them all. Anybody who enjoys underground/ independent comics or just the work of Daniel Clowes would probably enjoy this movie.

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