This Is Where I Leave You: Book vs. Movie

Since I haven’t talked about books in such a long time, and most of the books I read got adapted for the big screen,  I decided to compare the This Is Where I Leave You movie and book! Jonathan Tropper, the author of the book, also wrote the script for the movie, which lead me to believe that it would be a very faithful adaption. Some things definitely stayed the same, but there were more changes than I expected. I will give you a short summary of the synopsis and then name all the differences that I noticed, which means there are definitely Spoilers involved!

The core of the story didn’t change when it got adapted. This Is Where I Leave You deals with the fact that everyone mourns differently and that we all need our family sometimes – no matter how messed up it is. More specifically it is about four siblings and their mother, who have to sit Shiva (which is the mourning period in Judaism, where the first-degree relatives gather at one home and receive visitors for seven days). The family is not exactly close and it doesn’t take long for old rivalries, romances and accusations to surface again.

Now, before I get into full detail, I want to say that I liked the movie a bit more than I liked the book. The cast was chosen really well, consisting of Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Adam Driver (so glad to see him in more movies now), Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Spencer, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk and many more. The music was fitting the tone and I liked the pace of it. However, I think I enjoyed it more because I read the book before. Knowing all the background stories really helped making some scenes more emotional and meaningful. This Is Where I Leave You is one of those movies where you have to look at what’s underneath the surface to realise the struggle this family went trough and the love they have for each other.

But all that probably didn’t help you very much, so here are my more specific pointers on the differences between the movie and the book:

  • The first and most obvious difference I noticed was the fact that the family has a different surname. They went from Foxman to Altman for whatever reason … seriously, no idea why.
  • I enjoyed that we didn’t get to hear Judd’s thoughts. Of course that was necessary in the book – how else would you have told the story? But I sometimes really didn’t want to hear what he was thinking, especially not when he was horny again.
  • There was only one flashback to Judd’s childhood, which didn’t bother me while watching the movie at all, but ultimately ended up killing a lot of storylines. I usually don’t like flashbacks at all, but the one they did was perfect.
  • The entire background story of why Paul and Judd don’t get along was erased. Judd still dated Annie before she married Paul and that bothers him of course, but he no longer has this lingering anger towards Judd for ruining his career in sports. I actually liked that storyline in the book, especially because in the end it just amounted to a lot of miscommunication instead of actual feelings of hate.
  • The relationship between Judd and Penny was also different than in the book.  While teen book-Judd was madly in love with Penny, it seems that it was the other way round in the movie.
  • Okay, so there is this one thing, I am hugely relieved didn’t happen! Annie did not have sex with Judd in the movie! That was so messed up in the book and I just kept thinking how it would ruin Paul’s and Judd’s relationship forever, if Paul ever found out. Paul and Annie are such a lovely couple as well and while I understand Annie’s frustration about not getting pregnant, she went too far for my opinion.
  • The break-up between Tracey and Phillip was a little different. There wasn’t as much arguing involved and Phillip did not threaten to kill himself. I am not sure how I feel about that, but all the other scenes with Tracey were actually very faithful to the book.
  • Judd did not find out about Linda and his mother before all the others did. Which I sort of missed, because I actually thought the way he reacted when he first thought about it being a possibility was sweet. The way he just accepted it and didn’t judge them was great.
  • Judd never withdrew all the money from Quinn’s and his joined bank account.
  • I think I understood Horry’s and Wendy’s story a lot better, because I read the book. I could imagine some people not being as involved in their tragic, because they didn’t get the whole thing in the movie.
  • This is no particular difference, but Cole was beyond cute in the movie!

I hope I didn’t forget anything and I would love to hear your opinion! Have you read the book/watched the movie/both?

 

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