As I mentioned in my review, it's true that the movie inspired me to read the book, but did the movie have to move so far away from the original story?
One big, solid character in the form of Melony is missing from the movie. OK, forgivable because that would have meant that much more time developing that character. But how about Homer Wells's basic characteristic of mostly saying just "Right"? He speaks normally in the movie, very un-Homer-like. And a whole generation is missing--where's Homer's son? And Rose Rose is Homer's son's girl, and she's vivacious--in the movie she's sad and unnoticed, and she has no baby either.
And the nurses! In the movie Dr Larch is shown happily kissing Angela! In the book it's Nurse Edna who loves Dr Larch, not Angela--and he kisses no nurse, not even Edna.
The movie seemed shallow and flat to me. I wanted to read the book because I wanted to know more--the content that should have been there but wasn't.
I believe John Irving liked what they did with the movie but I can't see what he liked, except the treatment--the atmosphere, setting and colours were in keeping with the book.