MOVIE REVIEW: 11/22/63

“No matter what this looks like, I didn’t do a bad thing.” (Jake Epping, 11/22/63)

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Yes, I’m fully aware that this is not a movie, but it’s a short TV series, so it counts. I’m not sure where this show went so wrong, but it should have gained a LOT of traction and it didn’t, probably because of the speed of the show and the unnecessary deviations from the original story line.

SPOILER ALERT

The main story line remains in tact from the book: a man goes back in time, meets a woman, falls in love, stops the assassination of JFK, returns to the present, and then goes back and undoes it all. But the similarities are extremely surface based. The details of the stories – the date and time where you enter the past, where the couple met, different delays that come up, and how the big finale actually went down – were basically all different. The date that he travels back to is different. The couple meets by chance in Dallas. The big finale is drug out but the ending is ultimately the same.

I understood that there were going to be changes necessary for the on-screen adaptation because most of the book is filler (the play and fundraisers, for example) and most of the story developed through internal thought from Jake. The incorporation of Bill’s character made sense until he started interacting with Marina Oswald, Lee Harvey’s wife. The whole premise of the book and story was that the past was delicate and changing one simple thing could mean changing everything. Then the story basically “went away” so there was no problem. Not a good choice for the story in my opinion.

There was one notable difference from the book to the show: Miss Mimi is African-American. Maybe I just missed it, but I had no recollection of that in the book. The racial divide was evident in other areas of the book that weren’t in the show but I actually appreciated the addition of this story line. It gave a new depth to the Miss Mimi and Deke storyline since the relationship would have been taboo. There were also scenes with Jake offering her coffee – much to the utter shock of their peers – and a scenario where Miss Mimi was being discriminated against until Jake stepped in. I appreciate the stark contrast to how times were then to now and how appalling that behavior is considered to us now.

SUMMARY

I really enjoyed the book and I thought the show was “fine.” If you’re asking which one I recommend, it’s easily the book, but the book is very long. You get the overall story with the show so it’s a good watch for the shortcut version I guess.

GRADE: C

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