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Uploaded:2015-04-28
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In which John discusses the Paper Towns movie adaptation, the idea of faithful adaptations, and the lost art of the movie novelization. Special attention is paid to the novelization of the film The Goonies.

Also, in a stunning turn of events, I find myself in an airport.
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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. I know that blank wall bothers you, I just can't think of what to do with it. If I move the camera over here, there's too much light. I guess I could just zoom in, but then my face looks weird. I can do this angle; this is a nice angle for me, but it's a little nostrily. I think I'm just going to go to the airport. I know how to make videos there. And here we are, Hank, I gotta tell you, my boundless enthusiasm for airports, it's a little bounded at the moment. By the way, Hank, if you haven't noticed, I have completely stopped caring what the people in the airport think of me. I live here now; this is my residence.    So, Hank, the question I'm asked most often these days is "Will the Paper Towns movie be like the book?" only I don't think they're saying it like that exactly, I think they're saying it more like, "Will the Paper Towns movie be exactly like the book?!", or at least that's how I hear it in my head. The answer is yes, the Paper Towns movie is like the book. But also, you know, no it isn't. So Hank, when I was a kid, I was really into novelizations. Books that were adapted from TVs or movies I liked. I was particularly into "The Goonies" novelization.    For those of you who haven't been blessed by the magic of "The Goonies", it was a movie about a bunch of kids who, to save their home, kind of like discover a pirate ship. It's awesome! And the thing I love so much about reading "The Goonies" novelization, was that it was like watching the movie in the sense that all the stuff that happened in the movie, happened inside my head. But the novelization felt like fresh and exciting and new in a way that the movie couldn't, because I'd already see it like a gajillion times.    So, because I knew the movie so well, I noticed all the little changes in the novelization; like the novel is written from the first person point of view of one kid and that necessitated like some moving around of stuff and some changes in dialog. And Hank, I loved that! I loved trying to figure out why the writer had made changes to the movie in order to make the story work as text.    Images and sounds just kind of work on us differently than text does; like one of the things I love about text-based stories is that we sort of make them up with the writer. Because the images that are described in the text only exist inside of my head while I'm reading. Like Hank, my Harry Potter is different from your Harry Potter, and every other Harry Potter on the planet. My Harry Potter is just mine. But anyway, what I really want from an adaptation is to feel the feelings I felt while reading the book, right?   And personally,  I'm willing to sacrifice a lot of plot points to make that happen, like when I wrote my own screenplay of "Paper Towns" many years ago, it was vastly different from the book. Like Q ends up chasing after a different girl. Also, there was an airplane crash; it was just bananas. Anyway, all I wanted was to find a way to visually tell the story that when you put people on a pedestal, when you fail to imagine them complexly, it's tremendously destructive.    Now, it turns out that relentlessly focusing on theme instead of story telling is a bad strategy which is why that screenplay was so horrible, but the "Paper Towns" script that Mike Weber and Scott Neustadter wrote, the same guys who wrote "The Fault in Our Stars" screenplay, is just brilliant because it finds a way to capture both the story and the ideas. At least for me, when I watched it, the story created the same feelings and the characters had the same relationships with each other, and the same failures to imagine each other, and also Santa, complexly.    That said, Hank, if you look for differences, you'll definitely find lots of them. Like, for instance, there's no Sea World in the movie because no one was anxious to pay Sea World for the chance to give them good publicity. Instead, the stuff that happens at Sea World in the book happens elsewhere in the movie. Also, there's significantly less textual analysis of Walt Whitman in the movie, which I'm sure will be disappointing to many. Don't worry, there's still some, though.    Also, there's some changes that I think are just better. Like in the movie, the character Angela joins in on a road trip that she isn't part of in the book. And I like that decision. I wish I'd made it eight years ago. And that's another thing I've learned from "The Goonies" novelization, Hank, changes are not necessarily for the worse.    In the end, I'd rather have "Paper Towns" be good than be faithful. But I genuinely believe it is both. So I'm just very grateful to the people who made it. I feel very lucky. Hank, your tour is done, congratulations! I hope you sleep for like three straight days. And then I hope you wake up, because you have to make a video on Friday. I'll see you then.