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    A Novel Approach

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    Those crazies down in Hollywood — or as I like to call it, HOLLYWEIRD!! — are desperate to find new ways of inflicting their garbage upon us, and now they’re really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Do you want to know what their latest scheme is? Making movies based on books.

    That’s right, they’ve exhausted all the regular sources for cinema stories — board games, TV commercials, Twitter feeds, bumper stickers — and now they’re trampling the sacred halls of literature in search of new plots to steal. Those godless heathens are absolutely shameless.

    Since writing those first two paragraphs it has come to my attention that Hollywood has actually been making movies based on books for a long time. I don’t know why I never noticed before. Anyway, this does not diminish my outrage at the following projects currently in development.

    Some Books That Are Being Made into Movies That Maybe You Hadn’t Heard About

    GreenAlt text Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. In this tender coming-of-age story, an innocent young college student (played by the brother from one of the Disney Channel sitcoms) is approached by a shady character named Sam (played by Steve Buscemi), who tries to get him to eat green eggs and ham. The young man, though in the phase of life when experimentation is common, politely declines, whereupon Sam embarks on a whimsical series of efforts to get him to change his mind, offering green eggs and ham in a variety of locations: on boats, on trains, in the back rooms of various bars, etc. He is eventually successful in his attempts at persuasion, and the lad finds that he enjoys green eggs and ham after all! He and Sam move in together and have green eggs and ham all the time, until one day the young man says he’d like to maybe sample some other oddly colored foods, and Sam murders him in a jealous rage. Written and directed by Gus Van Sant.

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    The Phone Book, by the phone company. You know how people are always saying, “So-and-so has a great voice, I’d listen to him or her read the phone book”? Well, time to put your money where your mouth is. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Peter O’Toole, Jeremy Irons, and Maggie Smith take turns reading the phone book in this 13-hour production. Not as great as you thought it would be, is it? Maybe you should think before you make such wildly hyperbolic declarations.

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    The pictures that tell you how to put Ikea stuff together, by Sweden. These charming wordless instruction pamphlets were just begging for the big-screen treatment, and fortunately it’s Pixar that has taken the job. If DreamWorks had done it, the smiling man who puts the things together would have been a wise-cracking penguin, and the bookcase he’s assembling would have had the voice of Eddie Murphy. Pixar will give the subject the right mix of warmth and humor: all the pieces of the bookcase are sentient beings, and they work together to help their hapless new owner assemble the bookcase before his wife and new baby come home from the hospital. But when it turns out one of the crucial pieces is missing, the man and his partially assembled bookcase must take a quick trip to Sweden to retrieve it! Guaranteed to win the Oscar for best animated film, unless they give Larry The Cable Guy a part.

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    Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray. It’s a love story of cosmic proportions in this hilarious romantic comedy about two aliens — one from Mars, one from Venus — who meet on Earth and (eventually) fall in love! Blorpblek the Martian (played by Gerard Butler) has come to our planet in preparation for his people’s invasion of it. But wait a second! Frrrrrp the Venusian (played by Katherine Heigl) is here because HER people are ALSO planning an invasion! Whoops! Both planets can’t conquer us at once — but you can bet that Blorpblek and Frrrrrp can conquer the odds and fall in love despite the vast differences between their cultures, not to mention the differences between their species’ reproductive organs, both in location and number. Written and directed by Nora Ephron.

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    Ziggy’s Gift: A Holiday Collection, by Tom Wilson. Just in time for Christmas comes this live-action version of everyone’s favorite comic strip, coffee mug, and page-a-day calendar character, Ziggy! Kevin James stars as the lovable, amorphous, pantsless semi-human who spends his days returning things to department stores, being belittled by IRS agents, and waxing philosophical about whatever new trends young people were talking about 18 months ago. Will it be during this magical time of year that Ziggy finds his true love? Not to spoil anything, but no! Ziggy will die alone and afraid — and hilarious! Written and directed by whoever keeps making those “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies.

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    The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. This graphic and disturbing horror film will make you think twice about the way you treat your local flora. Billy is a little boy whose best friend is a tree. That’s right: young Billy is schizophrenic. After years of swinging from the tree’s branches and making its leaves into crowns and playing king of the forest, Billy gradually comes to believe that his beloved tree has betrayed him! In retaliation, he begins a campaign of daily torture and humiliation, which the tree is powerless to prevent. Billy uses a dull pocketknife to carve his initials into the tree’s trunk. He plucks the tree’s apples and scatters them around town, and then slowly dismembers his poor friend, one branch at a time. The tree’s screams — which only Billy can hear — are exquisite. In the gory final scenes, Billy cuts down the tree’s trunk, leaving only a gnarled stump on which he sits, calmly, at last victorious over the voices in his head. Written and directed by Ron Howard.

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    A Year of Snide Remarks was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. This week’s column was sponsored by Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. Sponsor had no editorial control over the column, and the author alone is responsible for its content.