Friday, May 31, 2013

Cast the Book: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

 This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Topper
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Jonathan Tropper's novel about a semi-dysfunctional Jewish family, the Foxmans, sitting shivah after their atheist father passed away is being turned into a movie with one of the most exciting sounding casts around, including everyone from Tina Fey to Connie Britton (aka. Tami Taylor) and Timothy Olyphant. Topper's novel is laugh out loud funny and with this cast, it has the chance to be really good.  I'm a little less excited about the director, Shawn Levy, who's comedies never really worked all that well for me.  Then again, I'm not the target demographic for Night at the Museum or Date Night.  Below is the break down of the cast with character descriptions:

Judd Foxman:  Judd is the narrator of the story.  He's going through a divorce after catching his wife cheating on with his boss, a Howard Stern-esque radio shock jock, Wade Boulanger.

Who's Cast for Judd:  Jason Bateman.   Bateman is great at playing put-upon sad sacks, so he should do well here.  However, he's about ten years older than Judd in the book. 

Who I'd cast:  The Foxman boys are known for their curly dark hair, so when I read the book, I pictured Judd looking like the ever-adorable Hamish Linklater

Wendy Foxman:  Judd's sister, she is a mother of three kids.  Her husband Barry is an obvlious businessman who treats her badly.  Wendy's very blunt and she's obsessed with how thin other women are, especially Judd's soon-to-be-ex-wife Jen. 

Who's Cast for Wendy: Tina Fey.  Wendy's a little less spastic than most of the characters Fey plays, so it will be fun to see her play someone different.

Who I'd Cast:  Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  She's about 10 years older than Wendy in the book, but she looks great and can definitely play younger.  She definitely could pull off Wendy's bluntness and sass.  However, it's a bit hard to believe that Julia Louis-Dreyfus (or Tina Fey for that matter) would have body issues.

Paul Foxman:  Judd's alpha male older brother.  Paul runs the sporting goods owned by their deceased father.  He and his wife Alice are trying to conceive.

Who's Cast for Paul:  Corey Stoll, who was wonderful playing Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris.  Stroll is actually quite a bit younger than Bateman, but he does seem more imposing.

Who I'd Cast: My first though reading the book was Rob Riggle or Vince Vaughan, however, I'm happy to see Corey Stoll in anything!

Philip Foxman:  Judd's ne'er-do-well  younger brother.  Philp tends to live life on the wild side, experimenting with drugs and dating models. 

Who's Cast for Philip:  Adam Driver.  Driver is fantastic on Girls, making his bizarro character (Adam Sackler) somehow both frightening and charming at the same time.  He definitely has the charisma needed for Philip. 

Who I'd Cast:  I actually think Driver is pretty perfect for this role.  He's handsome in an off-beat way, and has the irreverence and edge to play this character really well.

Mrs. Foxman:  The widow, known for her infamous enhanced cleavage.  She is a therapist who wrote a definitive book on child rearing (including examples from her own kids).  Mrs. Foxman is a smart woman, who tends to over share with her children.

Who's Cast:  Jane Fonda.

Who I'd Cast:  I don't really have any kind of strong opinions on Jane Fonda.  She does get name-dropped in the book, but not as a Mrs. Foxman doppleganger. However she's about ten years older than the character in the book.  I pictured Mrs. Foxman as being more Susan Sarandon-esque.  Diane Keaton might be too zany and not surgically enhanced enough for Mrs. F, but she's great at playing high-maintenance, over-sharing moms.

Alice Foxman:  Paul's wife.  She desperately wants to have a child.  Unlike the rest of the Foxman clan, she had a regular upbringing and doesn't quite get the way the Foxmans communicate.  Alice is on fertility drugs that make her overweight. 

Who's Cast:   Kathryn Hahn.

Who I'd Cast:  I love Kathryn Hahn.  She's usually hilarious.  However, she's not overweight by any stretch of the imagination.  If they drop the fat jokes from the books, I think Hahn would be great.

Tracy:  Philip's much older therapist girlfriend.  Tracy is in her mid-forties and is "engaged-to-be-engaged" to Philip. 

Who's Cast:  Connie Britton.

Who I'd Cast:  Lauren Graham.  Britton is a fantastic actress, but she seems too together to fall for someone like Philip.  While I'm sure Graham is a pretty together lady in real life, she's great at playing a mild mess as the relationship-hopping, still living at home single mom Sarah Braverman on Parenthood

Jen:  Judd's soon-to-be ex-wife, Jen is in her early thirties, very pretty, blonde, and pregnant (but not showing).

Who's Cast:  Abigail Spencer.

Who I'd Cast:  I'm not familiar at all with Abigail Spencer, but IMDB tells me she's way younger than Bateman and not a blonde.  With Hamish Linklater, I'd cast Jen as Katherine Heigl.  With Bateman, I'd reteam him with his Arrested Development love interest, Christine Taylor

Horry:  He's the Foxman's next door neighbor Linda's son and Wendy's high school boyfriend.  Horry has a brain injury from a bar fight that makes him still have to live at home.

Who's Cast: Timothy Olyphant.  

Who I'd Cast:  I'm always a fan of Olyphant, but being as Horry isn't repeatedly described as "incredibly good looking," I'm going to guess that he's a tad too handsome.  I'd cast Luke Wilson.  He's great at playing characters who are nice but frustrated with their lives, like Levi on Enlightened or Richie from the Royal Tenenbaums

Rabbi Charles Grodner:  The family's youngish rabbi who was a childhood friend of Paul.  Grodner wasn't exactly pious in his youth.

Who's Cast:  Ben Schwartz, who is fabulous as Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation

Who I'd cast: Brett Gelman.  I am sort of interested to see Schwartz play a character who is trying not to be outlandish.  However, he's a little bit on the young side.  While Gelman is actually only a couple years older than Schwartz, his beard and receding hairline make him look more mature.

Penny:  Judd had a crush on Penny in high school.  She works at the Foxman's sport store and ice skates in her free time.  She's also impossibly thin. 

Who's Cast:  Rose Byrne.  Byrne can be very funny and is certainly thin, but she's not really believable as Bateman's high school contemporary (unless he was held back a lot).

Who I'd Cast:  However, her Bridesmaid cohort Kristen Wiig is closer to Bateman's age and could bring some darkness to Penny's quirk.

Wade Boulanger:  Judd's former boss who is currently sleeping with his (Judd's) wife.  Boulanger is a radio host in the vein of Howard Stern, only if he was jock. 

Who's Cast:  Dax Shepard.

Who I'd Cast:  Vince Vaughn would be great at this role. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recent Reads

You Before Me by JoJo Moyes
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I initially checked out this book just to see if I was right about the ending (I was), but it proved to be a really great read.  It's about a working class English girl Louisa (Lou) Clark who lives a relatively sheltered life and works at a small local cafe.  However, when the cafe closes shop, Lou is forced to take a job care-taking for a wealthy cantankerous quadriplegic, Will Traynor.  Will used to be an adventurer and shrewd businessman before being badly injured in a motorcycle accident.  Despite their differences and Will's perpetual bad mood, the two soon become friends.  However, Louisa discovers that Will has a shocking deadline.  This book is a real tearjerker, but there is humor throughout the book.  I really enjoyed Louisa's somewhat contemptuous relationship with her single mother sister, Katrina- the "smart one" of the family. 

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill
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Set in the mid 1800s in a Quaker community in Nantucket, this novel follows 24 year-old Hannah Price who dreams of one day discovering a comet.  She works as a librarian and spends the evening observing the stars. Overall, Hannah is pretty happy with her existence until her father announces that he is moving to Philadelphia to remarry.  As an unmarried woman, Hannah is forced to either leave her observatory and the island she's lived all her life, or marry a man she doesn't love for stability.  Things are further complicated when Hannah takes on a student Isaac Martin, an ambitious sailor from Azores.  Martin is not white, and his relationship with Hannah causes problems for them both even in the relatively liberal Quaker community.  This book is slower paced, but moody and romantic.  Hannah is sometimes a bit too stubborn, but it was hard to not be sympathetic to her plight and inspired by her accomplishments.  I definitely rooted for Hannah and Isaac's relationship.  Hannah is very loosely based on a real life "lady astronomer" Maria Mitchell.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
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The premise of this book sort of reminded me loosely of W. Somerset Maugham's Painted Veil.  In spite of her father's Irish working class roots, Frances Irvine has led a life of privilege in London until her father dies suddenly.  Before his death, her father had made some poor investment choices and Frances is left with nothing.  Frances must choose between either working as caretaker for her aunt or marrying a distant cousin Edwin, a doctor in South Africa.  Frances doesn't really like Edwin all that much, she finds him rather serious and boring.  However, after initially rejecting his proposal, she changes her mind and agrees to the arrangement.  Edwin pays for her to travel to South Africa by ship.  While en route, Frances meets the charming and handsome diamond miner William Westbrook.  Frances falls hard for William, but finds out he's engaged to wealthy woman in Kimberley.  Once Frances arrives in South Africa, she finds life with Edwin even worse than she expected.  He lives in relative poverty, and insists of investigating a potential smallpox outbreak in Kimberley despite the express displeasure of the powerful mining boss.  Will Frances leave Edwin for the more dashing William? 

Frances can be a difficult character to sympathize with, mainly because she makes some really poor decisions.  One of the guys is so clearly great and on the right side of history and the other guy is an obvious jerk and up to no good.  However, the setting of the book is really interesting and I found the plot quite compelling.