The title is not meant to suggest that Frank Miller's SPIRIT film is better enjoyed with ice cream, but that, whatever failings the movie has, it occupies its own distinct mode and should be judged on the terms of that mode.
A lot of cyber-ink has been spilled with regard to how Miller allegedly betrayed the spirit of the original Eisner, uh, Spirit. But it should be noted that what Miller did is nothing new in the world of Hollywood, where almost any original work can and probably will be rewritten. One such adaptors reminisence went as follows:"I wrote it fast because I had contempt for [the work] ... I tell you [the author] didn't like what I did with his book. I ran into him at a restaurant and, boy, he didn't like me."
On the face of it, this sounds like one of many, many Hollywood tales of an unscrupulous hack tearing apart the precious work of some misused author, right?
However, this quote (sourced in Wiki under the name of the film adaptation) comes from respected scripter A.I. Bezerides, and the book he was rewriting was Mickey Spillane's 1952 Mike Hammer novel KISS ME DEADLY. Bezerides' script, directed as a film by Robert Aldrich in 1955, was only modestly successful in its day, but in succeeding generations filmhounds came to view it as a classic film noir. And yet, anyone who's read the original novel, as I have, cannot question the validity of Mickey Spillane's response to the work of Bezerides and Aldrich, for the film KISS ME DEADLY is entirely a travesty, and very nearly a satire, of the original work.
Now as a pluralist I respect the best manifestations of every mode of creativity, as I addressed here in respect to the concepts of "subtle" and "gross" modes. In that essay I explained that I considered a "subtle" work like DESIGN FOR LIVING to be no less worthy than a "gross" one like WAYNE'S WORLD. (By the same token there are certainly any number of works that are bad with respect to their modal potentials-- say, off the top of my head, 1939's IDIOT'S DELIGHT for the subtle category and AUSTIN POWERS 2 for the gross one).
By this logic of modes I have no problem in appreciating both the original Spillane novel and the satirically-flavored adaptation of it for the 1955 film. I deem both to be classics with respect to their modal potentials.
One is a travesty of the other.
Does I mean to suggest that Miller's SPIRIT, even if it was as much a travesty of its original source as the script of KMD THE MOVIE was of its original source, was as good in its mode as its source material was?
In a word, no.
But the point is that-- it could have been.
In other words, though Miller's SPIRIT isn't good in itself, it could have been as good in its mode as was KMD THE MOVIE, or many other examples I could name.
I'll come back to these matters of authorial integrity and misprision in another essay soon--