Being anywhere near BookTok or BookTwitter in the last year and a half, readers were ecstatic to hear that the USA Today Bestseller, The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne would be moving to the big screen in 2021.
The Hating Game is directed by Peter Hutchings and carries the enemies to lovers romance trope. The film revolves around Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale) and Joshua Templeman (Austin Stowell), both executive assistants forced to work together when their two rival publishing companies merge. Needless to say, Lucy and Joshua’s work ethics, opinions, and design styles clash as a result of their obligatory merger.
When I heard of the bestseller novel becoming a movie, I was curious about how the creative team and cast were going to portray these characters, storyline, and while providing essential details that we learn about in the book. Here are my thoughts on The Hating Game – novel to film. (Warning! Spoilers ahead.)
When we were introduced to Joshua, I noticed that he simply smiled more, making him more appealing to an audience in general. In the novel, his bitter wit and intimidating personality definitely make him a bit less personable. In this visual format, I believe it was important to primarily charm the audience. Lucy Hale portrayed Lucy Hutton with wit while maintaining a manner to show how beloved she was at the office. Lucy’s character in general cannot say no and gives the benefit of the doubt to all of her coworkers. The writers did well, by including coworkers (who were written in the novel) who asked for constant extensions, for Lucy to give out internships without her permission or say, and frankly allowing coworkers to walk all over her.
It is important for us to see that though Lucy was giving us “girl boss” moments, she was also shown as a complete bookworm who writes fanfiction and likes to eat jars of peanut butter with a spoon. This was extremely accurate to the original plot of the book. Despite that, the movie completely missed out on Lucy’s childhood and home life, which I believe played a major role in the plot. Though Lucy brought Joshua strawberries one day at work, the writers did not include how Lucy grew up on a strawberry farm, and how her mother gave up her dream in order for her father to achieve his as an owner of the strawberry farm. This showed readers how important Lucy’s career was to herself, and it would have explained a bit more why Lucy is so passionate about books, her job, and why it was important for her to succeed in the world on her own.
A plot moment that disappointed me was when we learned about how Joshua’s brother’s wife, Mindy, had dated Joshua years back. In the novel, Lucy’s hurt feelings were evident, and we were able to get insight into how she compared herself to other women like Mindy. Mindy is portrayed as the perfect beauty standard. I felt that the moment where Lucy finds out about Joshua’s past was too rushed, and Lucy was more focused on making Josh happy, rather than going into depth about his past and her feelings
In terms of the setting, though the film was a very Hallmark-like rom-com, it would have been nice to see more flavor within the setting. In the book, there is no specified location of where their office is, aside from being in a city. In the film, shots of New York City were shown in a broad scheme. The Bexley & Gamin Publishing offices were supposed to be in Brooklyn, (I believe) due to popular shots of DUMBO, Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Bridge, giving audiences the scenery of the World Trade Center. However, parts of the film seemed unrealistic, considering the salary of two book publishing companies in New York. There are no specific details when it comes to New York City, and in my opinion, making it appear as if the creative team did not put thought into location. It would have been interesting to see Lucy taking the subway home to her Lower East Side walk-up, while Josh drives his car uptown to his Upper West Side apartment building.
I believe the movie missed out on key charming moments – More lingering glances at one another while portraying a greater build-up of their relationship. Book-to-film adaptations are tough to please an audience. Evidently, there could never be enough time to fill in gaps of information that readers love, while also pleasing an audience who doesn’t know the story, nor wants to watch a two-and-a-half-hour indie rom-com that is typically predictable. I would rate the book 4/5 stars and the film a 6.5/10. Overall, there were enjoyable moments and the two main characters had strong chemistry; Definitely read the book before watching the film!