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Comparing Hoot Film and Novel

Hoot Among many books that were written and later made into films, the relation between the two can be vastly different, or practically identical. Though there are many similarities between the novel Hoot written by Carl Hiaasen, and the film directed by Wil Shriner, there are some differences as well. As a young man, Roy Eberhardt was a strange individual. Hoot, both the film and the novel, are based on a boy’s new life in Coconut Cove, Florida.

As most would expect, starting a new life in a place that you’ve never been before, isn’t exactly a cup of tea. Roy grew up being the nerdy, low self-esteemed loser of all groups. But after being successful in making a few friends here and there, they come together to rise against an upcoming development site, where many of the indigenous “burrowing owls” would be forced to leave their nests. Though this is a very broad overview of the story line, there are underlining details within the novel and film that differ from each other.

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Hoot, the novel, was viewed as one of the best novels of the year in 2002 and was awarded a Newbery Honor award in 2003. Hoot, the film, was released on May 5, 2006. The film was generally regarded as unsuccessful in its initial theatrical run, and received largely negative to middle-rated reviews from notable film critics and film-review websites. For anyone who has read the novel and compared it to the film, it’s obvious that there are not any drastic differences between the two. You must be paying attention to notice the subtle differences.

Quite a few of the differences that were found had to deal with the characters of the story; such as how they look and act. By far, one of the most noticeable character differences between the novel and the book is with Leroy “Curly” Branditt. Curly, as everyone calls him, is the foreman on the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House construction site where all of the mysterious vandalism has happened. By Officer David Delinko he is described as being “bald as a beach ball,” “cranky”, and “unsmiling” (Hiaasen, pg. ). As the text stated, he is noticed as being very bald. In the film, Curly is not bald, but topped with a full head of hair. Most other differences between characters are miniscule, but noticeable. For example, the second time Roy saw Mullet Fingers in the film, he was wearing a blue shirt, though in the novel, the author states that he was seen wearing the same dirty Miami Heat jersey. Napoleon Bridger “Mullet Fingers” Leep is Beatrice’s step brother. He is known to Roy as the mysterious barefoot kid.

His stepsister nicknames him Mullet Fingers because he is the only one who can catch a Mullet with his bare hands! He has a bad relationship with his mother, who sent him to military school because she thought his rebellious attitude was related to mental issues. A third difference to be noted was when Roy was out playing a round of golf, according to the film, he was struck by a golf ball on his forehead, while he was standing. In the novel, Roy was sitting down on the grass, and was struck behind his ear.

Relating to the same scene, it is shown during the film that Roy is struck by a golf ball twice, when in the novel, he was only hit once. Actions throughout the novel and film also, at times, differed slightly. In the novel, Roy was told that he was suspended for two weeks from the bus, for punching Dana; in the film, Roy was told by his father, that he was going to be suspended from the bus for three days. Since day one, Dana Matherson tormented underclassmen as the typical bully, especially Roy.

Just like other bullies, he is an antagonist who finds inflicting pain on others quite pleasurable. Eventually, Roy stood up for himself, and took the initiative to fight back, and was punished for his actions. Along with Roy’s actions, in the novel, Roy was called to the vice principals office to talk about the situation on the bus. During the discussion between Roy and the vice principle, it was agreed upon that Roy had to write a sincere letter to Dana, apologizing for his actions, but Roy asks who will read the letter to Dana because he can’t read it for himself.

In the film, it’s Roy’s father whom tells Roy to do the same actions. In the novel, when Officer Delinko’s police car was spray-painted as an act of rebellion, he was sleeping in a restaurant parking lot and was awoken by his boss to talk about the incident. However, in the film, the whole scene at the restaurant was cut out and went directly to Officer Delinko confronting his boss in his office. Officer Delinko is an officer in the Coconut Cove police department. He is described as being “young” and “loyal” by his boss and his dad.

He is the leading, as known as only officer investigating the vandalism at the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House construction site, though his personal items, such as his police squad car begin to be vandalized as well. Along with this particular incident, when Officer Delinko’s police car was spray-painted in the novel, he was given a replacement squad car for the amount time that it would take for repairs to be completed and during the film, he was given a “golf cart type” vehicle to drive until his personal car was finished being repaired.

During the film, when Roy had claimed to had been bitten by a vicious dog, he told the staff his name was Ling Ho, but in the book his told them his name was Tex. In both stories, the hospital later found out that he had been faking the scenario and was released back into his parents’ custody. One major flaw within the novel plot was it was never announced that Officer Delinko was promoted to Detective, though this was announced within the film that he was promoted due to his courageous acts in duty.

It is apparent that this is a vital and important scene that should have been written within the novel. It is most likely that this was an afterthought, added to the film as its own idea. Lastly, there were a couple differences between the two settings of the film and novel. After the golf ball incident on the golf course, in the novel, Roy went to his vice principals office to report what had happened; in the film, he went home and never said a word to his father or the vice principal later in the film.

Another instance was, in the book when Beatrice took Roy’s bike, it was pouring rain and Beatrice bit his tire so he had an excuse for his parents of why he was home to late in the day but in the movie it was sunny and Beatrice put a nail into his tire. In one last act of rebellion, Mullet Fingers buried himself, to where only his head was exposed above the ground, and in the movie, he was standing in front of the bulldozer to save the baby owls. Carl Hiaasen’s novel received fair greater reviews over the film based on his story.

The movie scored mostly negative to mixed reviews and has a Rotten Tomatoes “Rotten” rating of 26% and a Metacritic score of 46 (mixed or average reviews). The movie performed poorly at the box office, ranking as the poorest super saturated opening week since 1982, the film managed to recover $8,117,637 gross revenue worldwide. One of the most positive reviews came from the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr (3 stars out of 4), saying, “Hoot tells kids they can make a difference in this world, and that’s worth a hundred Ice Age 2s. San Francisco Chronicle’s Ruthe Stein gave the film a positive review (3 stars out of 4) and said, “… the film does nothing to dilute the save-the-Earth-and-every-creature-on-it message of Carl Hiaasen’s ingeniously plotted award-winning children’s book. ” Roger Ebert gave Hoot 1. 5 stars (out of 4) and has included Hoot in his 2007 book – Your Movie Sucks – where he says ‘Hoot’ has its heart in the right place, but I have been unable to locate its brain and … the kids (especially Mullet Fingers) are likeable but not remotely believable.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, are the raving reviews of the novel. “In his first novel for a younger audience,” Hiaasen “successfully cuts his slapstick sense of humor down to kid size. ” Hiaasen’s book is “sure to be a hoot, er, hit with middle school mystery fans”. The novel contains many characters that have their own story and background to make the plot interesting. These individuals make known their pro-environmental and pro-development views and invite readers to see young persons’ exceptional moral opinions of right and wrong.

Hoot the film, for the most part, was able to capture the same story-line, character personality/appearance, and mood as the novel portrayed. Though most did not care for the film over the book, the critics were quite harsh in their opinions. The novel is a great book for young adults who are looking for a fun read, along with learning that there are people out in the world who care about the environment. In my personal opinion, I would give the novel a 4 out of 5 stars and the film a 3 out of 5 star rating. Both were worth the time to read, watch and analyze.


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