A few months ago I listed Jonathan Tropper’s, This Is Where I Leave You as one of my favorite novels of the year. I ended the post in typical excited-Dani fashion with a “Weee” and a “clap clap” after mentioning that a movie based on the book was scheduled for later this year.
Well, later is now and last night I went to see it. I was supposed to wait for my book club ladies, but on opening weekend I decided to be a jerk and go by myself. They’ll forgive me when I buy a round of queso dip and guacamole at our next meeting.
After the movie I sat in my car and ugly-faced cried while texting messages to my four siblings. My emotional sonnet of undying love took three paragraphs to convey. Their replies consisted mostly of emoticon faces and pictures of fist-bumps. Also, my brother told me to quit being the weird crying chick in the parking lot. God love ’em. And they’re all mine!
The movie, about a dysfunctional family who has to sit Shiva for seven days after their father/husband passes away, was a nice homage to the book. Was it better? No. But what movie-based-on-a-book is? This is Where I Leave You has a stellar cast with a few of my favorites including Jason Bateman (does he EVER age), Tina Fey (go read her memoir, Bossypants, right now), Connie Britton (Mrs. Coach from Friday Night Lights), Dax Shepard, and the bald guy who played Peter on House of Cards.
I loved it. Critics hated it. WHY?? *dramatic fist-raise to the sky* I cannot tell you how many times a critic has bashed a book or movie that I adored. Do I have perpetually bad taste? Possibly. On Roger Ebert.com, one uptight staffer gave the movie two stars and reported that all the siblings did was, “gripe gripe, gripe and snipe, snipe, snipe.”
Um, YEAH. You put four adult siblings in their childhood home for seven days under stressful circumstances and that’s the reality. Though with my siblings it would be more like, “gripe, eye-roll, under-the-breath mumble, fist-clench, hum Amazing Grace 278 times and finally, shout, stomp, door-slam.”
Were there a few acting fumbles? Yes. Did they joke about the mother’s boob job too many times? Yes. Was there a completely cheesy scene where Jason Bateman and a possible love interest gaze up at the “stars” while Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time plays in the background and you feel like a poignant moment is being forced upon you? YES, OKAY, YES. But that’s what happens when you take a phenomenal book and try to turn it into a phenomenal movie. There will be missteps.
Ohhhh, but there is so much to enjoy about this movie. Maybe that’s the difference between me and a hard-edged movie critic. When I walk into the theater to see a movie, particularly one I’ve been looking forward to, I’m wide-eyed with excitement and eager to let the movie have its way with my feelings while I blindly munch on popcorn and sip soda out of containers the size of my head.
One reviewer called Jane Fonda’s character a, “gleefully inappropriate matriarch,” and said it like that was a bad thing. Look, I’m already a gleefully inappropriate matriarch, so in addition to taking the remark personally, it also made me realize how miserable and cynical critics can be.
If you enjoyed the book, go see the movie. Don’t ask yourself, “Will I like it better than the book,” because, damn it, you know you won’t. Just put on your stretchy popcorn-eatin’ pants, settle in, open your mind and instead of picking the story apart, let it take you away.
But don’t cry in the parking lot afterward because apparently that’s weird.