John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

This is Where I Leave You

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Jane Fonda

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: September 19th, 2014

The first thing you can say about This is Where I Leave You is that it has an incredible cast. From two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda to incredible television superstars like Jason Bateman and Tina Fey to great rising stars like Adam Driver and Corey Stoll, cialis 40mg
this is a film that has no reason not to succeed.

Which brings us to the second thing you can say about this movie: it’s one of the year’s most frustrating and obnoxious films of the year.

Fonda plays family matriarch Hillary, shop
who suffers the loss of her husband. Unlike some grief-stricken widows though, there she’s oddly passive about her loss. “She’s Mom…she asked me how much to tip the nurses,” her daughter Wendy (Fey) notes immediately after the death. The family then comes together for the funeral with Wendy’s siblings Judd (Jason Bateman), Phillip (Adam Driver), Paul (Corey Stoll) preparing to say goodbye. According to Hillary though, her late husband wanted the family to sit shivah to mourn his death.

The family is then faced to confront some hard truths about their marital choices (some are clearly in unhappy marriages), their professional decisions, and what they need to do to get out of the funk that many find themselves in. It’s a bland but routine premise that could’ve easily worked if the script didn’t consistently settle for the lowest common denominator.

Based on a novel by Jonathan Tropper (which wrote this adaptation), the film never lets you see these characters as anything but cartoonish and unethical fools. Even when there’s a moment of seriousness, it’s usually followed by a scene of a small child walking away with a portable toilet and going potty. Yes, there’s a running gag about potty training. And there’s a running gag about Hillary’s breast implants. And there’s a running gag about a rabbi whose childhood nickname of Boner has haunted him throughout his adult life.

If these gags don’t seem funny to you and if they seem too gimmicky and silly for a cast of this caliber, you’re absolutely right.

At one point, Judd— who finds his wife cheating on him early on— notes “I’m way too old to have this much nothing.” It’s a sentiment that could apply to this whole cast that deserved better than this bland, unfunny comedy about this obnoxious family. In terms of the main stories here, none of them truly stand out. Wendy’s husband spends too much time on the phone working. Check. Paul’s wife is eager to have a baby. Check. Judd married the wrong woman and returns home only to find Penny, a girl he previously loved, unattached and simply waiting for him to return home (How bland is her character? Well, not once but twice is she found skating alone in an ice rink alone seemingly waiting for someone to find her.)

Aside from the amateurish jokes and the tired stories at play here, most of the characters have a mendacious quality and many of them feel no qualms about cheating on their loved ones. If these characters weren’t supposed to be loveable people, I only wish that the movie had embraced that. Here, the comedy wants it all adding a few sympathetic moments here to make these characters seem nice and likeable. None of them truly are (except perhaps for Phillip’s hopeful fiancé Tracy, played by the wonderfully underrated Connie Britton).

This is Where I Leave You is, despite having an amazing cast, one of the year’s blandest and most forgettable movies and that’s saying something considering some of the clunkers we’ve seen in 2014.

Review by: John Hanlon