19 Movies I Had Absolutely No Idea Were Based On Books We All Read In High School

·7 min read

1.10 Things I Hate About You is based on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles pointing at the camera at the dance

The play is a comedy about a "shrewish" woman who is "tamed" into a good wife, while her more desirable younger sister, Bianca, is fought over by multiple men. This is pretty similar to the plot of the film, though there is much more of a love story between Kat and Patrick, and it's slightly less misogynistic.

Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.As is romantic comedy Deliver Us From Eva.

LL Cool J holding Gabrielle Union from behind in the film

This film's premise is similar to that of 10 Things I Hate About You, but it isn't set in high school: A "shrewish" woman keeps meddling in her sisters' affairs, so her brother-in-laws hire their player friend to seduce her. However, there is no true "Bianca" in this adaptation.

Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.

Higgins standing behind Eliza

Even Pygmalion is based on something else — in this case, a Greek myth in which Pygmalion creates a statue that he then falls in love with. In Shaw's play, this concept is very loosely adapted to a story about a flower girl who takes diction lessons. My Fair Lady follows Shaw's play pretty closely and has the same characters and basic plot, though some details are changed and it adds music.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.As is teen comedy She's All That.

Poster for the film

In this even looser adaptation, the popular and boastful Zack makes a bet with a friend that he can turn any girl into a prom queen in six weeks. This is similar to the plot of the play, in which Higgins partakes in a bet that he can turn Eliza into someone who can pass as a duchess after boasting about his abilities.

Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.And Pretty Woman.

Edward gives Vivian a necklace

In a story similar to the above two examples, an older wealthy man helps transform a younger, lower-class woman into a lady, though this time, there is a love story (which actually makes it more similar to the original myth that Pygmalion was based on).

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6.Oliver & Company is based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

Oliver in the film

The film is based on Oliver Twist, but the Chicago Tribune called it "more of a modernization of Lady and the Tramp." The film does follow the basic premise of Oliver falling in with a group of pickpockets in a city, though it changes the location and many of the characters and plot points.

Disney

7.The Dark Knight Rises is based on Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

Bruce and Catwoman dancing

The original screenplays (which ended up being very edited and cut down) were based on the classic novel, especially in tone: “What Dickens does in that book in terms of having all his characters come together in one unified story with all these thematic elements and all this great emotionalism and drama, it was exactly the tone we were looking for," Christopher Nolan said.

Ron Phillips/Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.The Nutty Professor is based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Eddie Murphy in the poster for the film

The Eddie Murphy film is a remake of the 1963 film of the same name, which was a sort of parody of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the film, an overweight science professor creates a serum to lose weight and tests it on himself, which creates a thinner and less pleasant alter ego he names Buddy Love.

Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.From Prada to Nada is based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Mary and Nora hanging out on a bed

The film follows the riches-to-rags story of the Jane Austen classic, but it's set in East LA with Latinx characters.

Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.The SpongeBob SquarePants movie seems to be based on Homer's Odyssey.

Mindy with her arms around Patrick and SpongeBob

Many have pointed out similarities between the film and Homer's story, but the director has not said anything definitively, though he did describe the plot as a mythical hero's quest and an "incredibly dangerous heroic odyssey." However, the inclusion of a Cyclops and the "bag of winds" Mindy gives SpongeBob and Patrick are pretty obvious allusions to the literary work.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Warm Bodies is loosely based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

R next to Julie, who's pointing a gun

Well, technically it's based on Isaac Marion's novel Warm Bodies, which in turn is based on the classic play. It features a version of the balcony scene and star-crossed lovers named "R" and "Julie," though instead of warring families, the backdrop is humans versus zombies.

Summit Entertainment / Summit Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Groundhog Day is loosely based on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Gay Science.

Phil and Rita at a diner

In Nietzsche's book, he describes the concept of "eternal recurrence," in which you live the same experience over and over again. This is obviously similar to the movie, where a man who reports the weather lives the same day over and over again.

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Cruel Intentions is based on the classic French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Movie poster for the film

The plot of the film is pretty similar to the book, in which a rich aristocrat promises to spend the night with another aristocrat if he'll seduce the innocent Cecile, who has "stolen" her boyfriend. Even the ending, when Kathryn Merteuil's (the Marquise de Merteuil in the book) involvement in the whole scheme is revealed, is super similar. Obviously, the movie modernizes this and sets it in a high school.

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Moulin Rouge is based on both Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Satine and Christian singing on top of the elephant

The film's cowriter said that the Moulin Rouge became a symbol for the Underworld, which is how it's actually referred to in the film as well. Christian does lose Satine to the "Underworld" in the end, and one could argue there is a subversion of the myth near the end of the film, as Christian's life is in danger if he does not walk away. A Bustle writer even pointed out that the climactic scene features Christian walking away from Satine, then slowing turning back.

20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Barnyard is loosely based on George Orwell's Animal Farm.

The barn animals talking

According to IMDb, the film is very loosely based on Orwell's novel — critics also noticed vague allusions to the book and current events. Both stories feature humanized versions of farm animals that gain new leadership after their leader dies, but the similarities seem to end there.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Clueless is based on Emma by Jane Austen.

Cher and Dionne outside

The film's plot of a woman setting up a friend they've taken pity on is the same as that of the classic novel, and the characters are pretty similar to the ones in the novel, though obviously updated.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.She's the Man is based on Twelfth Night by Shakespeare.

Duke and Viola at the game

The film features the same basic plot and relationships in the original play: Viola, while disguised as a man, falls for Duke (Duke Orsino in the play), who is in love with Olivia, who in turn has fallen for Olivia in her disguise. However, obviously the setting, time period, and soccer aspect are all very different from the original story.

DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Bridget Jones's Diary is based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Poster for the film with Colin Firth, Renée Zellweger, and Hugh Grant

The film was actually based on a book of the same name, but the author of the book, Helen Fielding, has said she was heavily inspired by the plot of the classic Austen novel. Both featured the romantic lead of Mr. Darcy — a role Colin Firth actually played in the TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice AND in Bridget Jones's Diary.

Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.And finally, Apocalypse Now is based on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Robert Duvall as Lt Col Bill Kilgore and another soldier in the film

The movie's characters and plot structure are similar to the novel, according to the New York Times, but the ending (as well as the protagonist's goal) is very different.

United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection

What movies were you super surprised to discover were based on classic literature? Let us know in the comments!