When the Movie is Better than the Book

When the Movie is Better than the Book

Every book lover says the same thing: the book is better than the movie.

But as an avid movie watcher, there are times, when the movie is better than the book.

The Firm

I’ve seen the movie The Firm a dozen times or so over the course of many, many years. I really enjoy it and would place it in my top 100 favorite films. It always entertains and I always feel content at the end of it.

So I decided to finally read the book by John Grisham. And the book was good. I really enjoyed it. But not as much as the movie.

Every movie has to try to find the most important elements of a book plot and only focus on that. A movie has too many visuals, colors, sound, motion: a movie cannot possible show you everything a book can. The Firm, is the victim of just a little bit too much going on.

The book has to give you a lot of background because most people are not lawyers for the mob and Grisham spends a lot of time stressing billable hours and lawyer-client privilege. There are two major flaws for me in the book that the movie gets right.

Spoilers Ahead

The Ending

The movie: Mitch McDeere gives the FBI a dossier on how the firm overbills, a crime. The FBI will be able to indict all of the partners of the firm for fraud. McDeere then keeps all of the mob’s information as a way to keep his law license (he didn’t break lawyer-client privilege, not a crime but against the ethics of the profession and would lead to the bar revoking his license) and to keep his family safe.

The book: McDeere hands everything he can get his hands on to the FBI making him a marked man for the rest of his life. He is literally jeopardizing his wife and any future children by helping the FBI. McDeere and his wife retire to a private boat in the Caribbean, hoping to stay a secret for the rest of their lives.


Abby McDeere

The movie: Abby McDeere helps her husband in his quest to gather information despite his having cheating on her. She loves him and she doesn’t want him to abandon him in a moment of need. But in the end, although they ride off together towards a new life, they do not make any concrete plans. You can imagine whatever ending you want for their relationship. She can stay or eventually leave but she most definitely never formally forgave him and she didn’t beg to start a family with him.

The book: Abby never finds out about the affair although it plays a large part in the tension building. She does help McDeere throughout the book but in the end, despite her reservations about disappearing with her husband and abandoning her parents, she decides to stay. The last page of the book, Abby tells her husband it is time to start a family.

They had been on the boat for a day or two and had not even began to decompress from the stress of getting the information to the FBI. Would any woman who had not had time to contemplate her new life and figure out the logistic of childbirth be begging her husband to start a family? Her husband had just gambled on both of their lives and everything that both of them had worked for was over. I just didn’t think that a woman that was shown to care about a nice house and beautiful things would immediately want a baby.

In the end, I really enjoyed both the book and the movie. It just so happens that I think the plot of the movie is a little better organized and perhaps slightly more female friendly.


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