A few weeks ago, my 11 year-old daughter finished Catching Fire, and we watched the movie. Halfway through she muttered, “this wasn’t how I imagined it.” After the movie she told me, “they left out some things. And they changed some things. And it wasn’t how I thought it would be.”
“And that’s why I make you read the book first,” I told her. “The book is always better. Even when the movie is good, the book is better.”
And then, last night I talked a friend into watching a movie with me. I even got her to rent it. And then I felt bad, because I told her in every scene everything that was missing.
Because I read the book in August.
The movie was This is Where I Leave You starring two of my favorites, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. I also have a crush on Corey Stoll, and a HUGE life-size love for Timothy Olyphant, both of whose parts were too small in this movie. Actually, all the parts were too small in this movie. (Except Jane Fonda. I could have had less of her.)
They cut out some of my favorite storylines (why the main character Judd and his brother Paul don’t get along, for example), and they make changes that I disliked. But the biggest thing was the casting of Phillip. In the book he is the charming, good looking baby brother. In the movie, he was the very homely (in my opinion) Adam Driver, played without charm or the baby-of-the-family sweetness he had in the book. And, for some reason, they changed the family’s last name from Foxman to Altman.
It was a good movie, and the story remained mostly the same. It wasn’t great, and the movie was kind of jagged. But it goes back to my motto, “The Book Is ALWAYS Better.”
There are some good movies from books that I’ve really liked. The Harry Potter movies, although they left out big chunks, were very well done and worked well. The Hunger Game movies have been done well, and Divergent was good. The Fault In Our Stars was excellent. And Gone Girl was done really well, staying close to the book. Other that Divergent, the ones that do the best adaptations seem to be done by the original author, either singly or in collaboration.
But the movie can never live up to the book. When we read books, we get to create our own adaptations in our imaginations, keeping every part of the story in tact. Nothing gets left in editing. No matter how good the movie is, it will never live up to the one created in our own minds.
Still and all, I always look forward to the movie, and I will continue to watch those movies made from my favorite books. It’s interesting to see their adaptations, to see how their created worlds compare to mine.
So I will read the book before I see the movie, and I will require the same of my daughter. It is always better to imagine a world on your own than to take another’s word for it.
And, because of the movie last night, here is the review of This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.
The quirky, angst-driven Foxman family in Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You is totally dysfunctional. But it works for them. I fell in love with the Foxman family, mostly because they remind me of my own family, minus the Jewish part.
The family is thrown together when their pretty much religion-free father demands they sit Shiva for him on his death-bed. The story is mostly told by Judd Foxman, the third of four Foxman children, who is separated from his wife, jobless (because his wife slept with his boss), and living in the basement of a “crappy house.”
Judd is the author’s main focus, but we also get large doses of the rest of the family. Judd’s mother is a sexy older woman who is best known as the author of a well-known book on child-rearing. His older brother, Paul, is angry and resentful, the athlete whose career was stunted, and is now running the family sporting goods business (concidently, my family’s business, as well!). Wendy is his older sister, married to a wealthy, distracted man and caring for her three children. And Phillip, the good-looking younger brother who can’t keep his hands off pretty girls, even though he is engaged. Throw in neighbors and old friends, and you have a great story to which many and most can relate.
Coming together for seven days as adults means dealing with childhood issues that were never completely put aside compounded with adult issues. The Foxmans handle it all with just enough anger to be believable and enough sarcasm to be funny. You want to hug them and then laugh with them.
I give this book 4.5 stars. Funny, warm, and surprising. Read it before you see the movie.