This is Where I Leave You
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 26th October 2014
Mindful that terrific ensemble casts (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda) do not always a terrific movie maketh, it’s commendable that the family dramedy This is Where I Leave You is well-scripted, well-acted and doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. What it is, however, isn’t necessarily that compelling.
From the moment Bateman’s radio producer Judd finds his wife in bed with another man, the story scurries quickly back to his childhood home where the family has been summoned to “sit shiva” in the wake of his father’s death. Judd and his three siblings must sit side-by-side for seven days to greet mourners and lick the wounds of their lives so far. There’s the brother under pressure to impregnate his wife; the sister married to a corporate jerk; the youngest brother Phillip (Driver being typically Driver) who is still a spoilt brat. Quite enough family dysfunction already without their mother (an enjoyable Fonda) sporting a preposterous bosom.
The opening scene (shots of New York, Bateman walking across a bustling street with a coffee) hints that this is going to be a whole lot of what we’ve seen before, and it is. Adults behave like children, long-lost loves are rekindled and mourned, and a small child rolls out a “poop joke” several times too many. The plot is overinvolved and convenient – and yet, despite the film’s lack of originality and instant forgettability, the actors read their lines with truth and still manage to leave you feeling charmed.