This Is Where I Leave You is a film out in UK cinemas on 24th October 2014; it is an adaptation of a book of the same name by international best-selling author Jonathan Tropper.
Jonathan has written six novels: Plan B, The Book of Joe, Everything Changes, How to Talk to a Widower, This Is Where I Leave You and One Last Thing Before I Go. This Is Where I Leave You has been developed by Warner Bros. Studios and One Last Thing Before I Go will follow as a movie, it is currently being adapted for Paramount.
Jonathan’s books deal with very serious tragic life issues, but the humour is found in the situations, making them both funny and highly accessible to all. Jonathan say’s “that’s how life really is. No matter what you’re going through, there’s comedy to be found. And if you ignore the comedy, then life is just one long funeral. I’m the guy who laughs at a funeral and cries at American Express commercials. You have to be open to the full spectrum of emotional responses. So I try to write books that convey that range. I want you to be moved, maybe to tears, but also to laugh your ass off.”
Jonathan writes character driven novels, the people are three dimensional – flawed, interesting and occasionally over the top. This is probably why Hollywood has been so attracted to his books to turn in to movies, and also why the studios have not had any trouble in recruiting top actors. This is certainly the case with ‘This Is Where I Leave You’, that has Jason Bateman (cover star), Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Connie Britton and Dax Shepard to name a few…
The book/movie is about a family coming together to grieve the passing of their Father. The patriarchs dying request is that all of his family – wife and children should meet at the family house for a week following the funeral. This marks the first occasion where the whole family has been together in quite some time and the week quickly spins out of control.
Firstly Judd’s wife is noticeably absent, owing to her fourteen month affair with Judd’s boss! Judd spends the week attempting to assess how he got to where he his, a week before he had a wife, a house and a job all that he loved and now – nothing!
Judd tries hard to not get sucked in to the family madness, but secrets are revealed, old grudges resurface and passions are awakened which make it impossible. The result is an emotional rollercoaster that takes a look at marriage, divorce, love, family. It is riotously funny in parts whilst it explores the ties that bind us (whether we like them or not).
Publishers Weekly said about the book:
Tropper returns with a snappy and heartfelt family drama/belated coming-of-age story. Judd’s wife, Jen, has left him for his boss, a Howard Stern-like radio personality, but it is the death of his father and the week of sitting shivah with his enjoyably dysfunctional family that motivates him.
Jen’s announcement of her pregnancy – doubly tragic because of a previous miscarriage – is followed by the dramas of Judd’s siblings: his sister, Wendy, is stuck in an emotionless marriage; brother Paul – always Judd’s defender – and his wife struggle with infertility; and the charming youngest, Phillip, attempts a grown-up relationship that only highlights his rakishness.
Presided over by their mother, a celebrated parenting expert despite her children’s difficulties, the mourning period brings each of the family members to unexpected epiphanies about their own lives and each other. The family’s interactions are sharp, raw and often laugh-out-loud funny, and Judd’s narration is unflinching, occasionally lewd and very keen.
Tropper strikes an excellent balance between the family history and its present-day fallout, proving his ability to create touchingly human characters and a deliciously page-turning story.
Shawn Levy directed the film and said that they did not go looking for, or push for the big laughs; they played the emotions in an authentic way and trusted that the comedy would play through. Above all the reality of the feelings needed to come across.
The main characters shared the same sentiment. Tina Fey who plays Wendy said “When you see it, and like the book, there are moments that are very funny and moments that, as in the book, will move you to tears…real life is never just serious. People cope through humour, so it’s a really good example, in Jonathan’s writing, of an integration of real life.”
“Bateman (who plays Judd) said such a character is right in his wheelhouse. If I do anything funny, it usually lives pretty close to drama anyway, I’m not a particularly skilled guy at big broad humour, as I prefer to play in the middle of the two genres. I enjoy playing characters that can do that, they can just back and forth between something humorous and something heartbreaking.”