It’s c1909, and a small group of strangers are closing in on the breakfast cereal Mecca, Battle Creek, Michigan. It’s there that the San, Dr. Kellogg’s famous sanitarium awaits some of them, and the fast-paced novel cereal industry awaits others. Will and Eleanor Lightbody have recently gone through a personal tragedy, and are returning (well, Eleanor is) to the San for further treatment, while Will is joining for the first time. Charlie Ossining is a would-be cereal magnate who is bringing his seed money to start a new cereal brand. Between these two stories, we get the smaller stories of the nurses, other patients, town-dwellers, and the good doctor himself enmeshed in a funny and weird historical drama.
It’s not that if you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need to read the book. It’s more so that the movie skimmed the surface so carefully that it touched upon almost everything that the book does, just in significantly lighter ways. The book feels light so often, where a lot of the prose tells the story but never quite gives the drive or depth I feel like the story needs. The dialog is great, and the description so truly bizarre, but it’s never quite sings. The movie does offer up some additional visual details that are amazingly rendered.