I have a love / hate realtionship with Hearts in Atlantis. The book was a collection of short stories King had done, which were connected via a series of characters that were all presented to the reader in the first short story, "Low men in yellow coats". This first story is the meat and potatoes of the entire book and is also the longest entry in the book, it also ties in to the Dark Tower series as well, making direct references to it.
The rest of the book is bascially about characters and how they were effected by these events that happen during their childhood. Almost the entire rest of the book is simply glossing over the other characters and how they grew up, some went to school, some went to vietnam, others gave up their lives for the things they believed in. The reality is the majority of the book is actually more of a drama piece more than anything else. The final story in the book ties everything all up in a neat little package and we come back to the main character now as an adult himself.
Hearts in Atlantas focuses mostly on the very first story in the book, while also throwing in some references to some of the other events in the other stories not covered.
While I did greatly enjoy the movie, after coming back from a fresh read of the book, I do have complaints and while some of them may seem minor, they were enough to get me to change my opinion of the movie.
The movie fails to reall hammer home how much Bobby actually apprciated his library card, as he ends up becoming a well read reader thanks to Ted and his library card, and is a key point in becoming the man he does become later.
Further, I greatly dislike how the portray the Mother as a victim in the film, yes, she may be a victim of sexually assult, although it was a situation she put herself in, but that ignores the fact that she is constantly abusive to her son, lied about Bobby's Father constantly and was purposely going in to work to fool around with her boss.
In the book, it is later reveal that his Mother is actually hoarding money, as well as spending it on lavished things like clothing and makeup for herself. The movie completely glosses over the fact that Bobby's Mother attacks Bobby and throws him across the room after discovering Carol in Ted's apartment, she even makes a comment stating how disghusting Bobby is and he's just like every other man. Near the end of the book Bobby reads his Mother's mind and realizes his Mother actually doesn't like him at all, Ted even acknowledges this himself. Bobby's Mother is one of the antagonists in the book as far as I am concearned and the movie doesn't do a good enough job of making that point.
They also show Ted touching other characters all the time, which completely goes against the book, Ted's gift can rub off on other people from contact, because of that, he often keeps people at bay and avoids touching them. I really don't know why they did this in the film.
I have no idea why, but there are several instances in which they add in information of Bobby's Father that never happened in the book, I don't know why they do this, as Bobby's Father is intended to be enigmatic. They even had this weird moment where instead of taking a keyfob of the bar as a memeto of his trip, Bobby is given a picture of his Father from a bar tender. I have NO IDEA why they made this change. Why?!
They also changed the owner of the glove in the movie. In the book, the glove was Bobby's and it was stolen from him after helping Carol. Another pointless change in my opinion. My best guess is because they cut all the story content of how the glove was stolen and it going to like Vietnam and back and being left to Bobby in a will, they decided it would be easier to shoe horn in a reason for glove at all by making Sully the owner to begin with. They also cut the entire part where Sully wins a contest to go to a summer camp, leaving Bobby on his own, this is a huge moment for the characters because it changed who they were and how they would treat each other later on, it created a rift between the two that was never properly repaired.
They changed who rescued the kids when they were assulted by teens from a local catholic school, in the book it's supposed to be Carol's friend, in the movie, they made it Ted instead, using his shining to intimidate the teens. This change makes no sense to the story, since Ted is on the lamb, in hiding from the low men in yellow coats and the crimson king. Ted made it a point to stay inside most of the time and avoid getting involved in conflicts. Going outside like that and flashing his power to scare some kids would have definitely set off alarms for the low men.
Even more frustrating is the fact that they tried to shoe horn in a story for why Ted is on the run. In the book, Ted is an escaped breaker, fleeing to avoid the Crimson King and his people, in the movie, they add in a scene where Bobby is reading a news paper headline that states the FBI was under investigation for using psychics to combat Communism. In one small action they wiped out the Dark Tower subtext and turned the low men in yellow coats in to goverment agents. For me this is pretty much inexcusable.
They completely skip the confrontation with the low men and their cars, which actually happen to be living creatures with teeth and tentacles. The design they had for the low men and their cars were also completely wrong.
They changed the part about Bobby waiting for one of the bullies to be alone and then beating the crap out of them with a surprise attack, instead changing it, making it look like self defense. They also cut out where Bobby tells them that if they Bully Carol ever again, they'll kill them and that if they ever pick on Bobby again, he'll burn their house down.
Also, of course, since they skipped all the other stories in the book, it's never explained that Carol became an anti-war activist, who had supposedly died in bombing, but had actually faked her own death, at the end of the book, Bobby and Carol reunite. The movie instead has Bobby meeting Carol's daughter, stating that her Mother has been dead for many years.
The ending is really just a sloppy mess thrown together as best as they could given what they managed to pull off with the film. I have to say that this is a super condensed, very inaccurate version of the book and coming back to it now, I realize I don't care for this movie as much as I remember.