Book & Movie Review: Fried Green Tomatoes

We all love our books, and there are times we wish they could come to life on the big screen. Sometimes our wish comes true and those beloved stories soon hit theaters. Yet as excited as we are for the movie version to come to be they are not always good experiences. Perhaps a character is portrayed incorrectly, important scenes are left out or changed completely, or that wonderful story has been reduced to something with no plot but amazing CG effects. And then there are times when the movie is absolutely stunning and you are left with such an amazing feeling after watching it.

In the case of today’s post, this is actually August’s They Made It Into A Movie post, which is two weeks late due to some technically difficulties.

How I First Encountered Fried Green Tomatoes

I was probably about fifteen or so the first time I saw Fried Green Tomatoes and ever since then it has been one of my favorite movies. I have watched this movie more times than I can even remember and I know I will watch it many more times in the future. This is the kind of movie that I feel everyone should watch once, and they will probably watch more than once if they enjoy it. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was based on a book and I told myself that I just had to read that book, but it took many, many years before I got around to reading it.

The Book

When I finally got around to reading this book I really enjoyed it. It’s written in a different way, with the story being broken up by articles from various newspapers during the events of the story. The book is essentially two stories. There is the story focusing on the growing friendship between Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode. But the second story is the bigger one, it’s the story of Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison as well as the events that surround a murder in their small town. The great thing is that these stories intertwine because Ninny is telling the story of Idgie and Ruth to Evelyn. So while the stories are separate they also are connected, for if it wasn’t for Idgie and Ruth’s story then Evelyn and Ninny’s story may never have happened.

The book also goes beyond the main story revolving around Idgie, Ruth and the murder. The snippets from the newspapers says what current events are going on, sometimes it’s gossip while other times it talks about actual events that affect the characters lives. While I can’t say that these little additions blew me away it was kind of neat to read about what else was happening in and around the area that the main story was occurring. Truthfully the book could have skipped these parts and I still would have enjoy it, but I certainly didn’t mind having those little extras along the way.

I love the ending of the book. However, I can’t really explain why that is because it will end up ruining not only the book, but the movie as well, for those who haven’t had a chance to read this story yet. But let’s just say it left a smile on my face.

Another addition I like is at the end, after the book itself is done, is that the recipes that were features at the cafe in the story are printed there for readers to try it out. I will admit I have wanted to try fried green tomatoes for a while now (since watching the movie the first time) and those recipes will let me do that at some point. It really makes the book go beyond the story itself and inserts it into your own life. Now obviously trying out the recipes is completely optional but I do plan on trying some of them.

The Movie

The movie is fantastic. I have loved this movie since the first time I saw it more than fifteen years ago and I feel like I’m seeing it for the first time each time I watch it. The actors in this movie are perfect for their roles. Though I have to admit I was at first worried about seeing Kathy Bates in one of the main roles in this movie the first time I watched it – the reason being I had recently see Misery and just couldn’t separate crazy Anne Wilkes from nice Evelyn Couch. But after I watched the whole thing I realized that Kathy Bates was right now the role. Jessica Tandy was another actress who was spot on. I could not imagine another actress playing the role of Ninny Threadgoode. Really I could go on and list each actor and their role and how well they did with that particular character but that would get a little redundant.

I think my favorite aspect of this movie is watching the two stories unravel and also intertwine. For without Ninny befriending Evelyn and telling her the story about Idgie and Ruth then things would be a lot different. Really in a way you can’t have one story without the other. While I’m sure that they could have made the movie solely using the story of Idge and Ruth it just wouldn’t have been the same, because it’s how that story affects Evelyn’s character that pushes things forward.

Even just the opening scene with the old car being pulled out of the river really catches my attention. Of course I also really love the first scene with Ninny and Evelyn. The way their conversation and friendship starts always makes me laugh. The way Ninny so casually throws out the comment about her gall bladder, then the conversation turns to enemas and everything grows from there.

This is the type of movie that makes you laugh, cry and also really think about things such as racism, friendship and who the heck murdered Frank Bennett. I would highly recommend that everyone watch Fried Green Tomatoes at least once, but don’t be surprised if you end up watching it multiple times, as it’s just one of those movies that sticks with you and makes you want to watch it again and again.

How They Compare To Each Other

I have to say that overall the movie and the book are pretty close to one another. There are obviously differences, in fact a lot of the book is cut out – mostly the extra side stories revolving around the minor characters lives and other events that don’t directly tie into the main storyline. The relationship between Idgie and Ruth is also very different, for in the movie they are best friends (with the vaguest hints of something more) but in the book it’s shown that they go beyond friends. This is one of those times where I think I like the movie better. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the book too, but it was nice to just focus on the main story and not all the off shooting little side stories that almost took away from the bulk of the book. For anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie I would highly recommend both because they are both fantastic in their own rights.

One difference between the book and the movie that stands out is something to do with Ninny. Especially after having watched the movie first multiple times before reading the book I found this difference almost unacceptable because I had a very set idea in my mind as to what would happen. But it certainly put a different twist into the book and in the end I did accept this difference and it also allowed me to see a slightly different story that what I have come to learn from the movie.

Overall though, the movie does reflect the main focus of the books story. To have added all the extras into the movie would have not only made it far too long but also would have made it feel drawn out and possibly boring at times. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t read the book or watched the movie to go out and do it, and in the case that they haven’t done either of these things then definitely do both. I’m not sure if I would recommend watching the movie or reading the book first, as they are both good in their own rights.

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