This Is Where I Leave You: Movie Review
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Timothy Olyphant, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Shawn Levy
From Jonathan Tropper's novel, dramedy This Is Where I Leave You sees an all-star cast gathering together to mourn the loss of a patriarch and to rediscover their own connection.
Bateman (in sad-sack moping mood) is Judd Altman, who, after discovering his wife is cheating on him on her birthday, receives a message to say his father's died. Heading back to the family home, run by therapist Hilary (Fonda), he's forced back into the quarrels and squabbles that comes with his two other brothers, Phillip and Paul (Driver and Stoll respectively) and his sister Wendy (Fey in a dramatic turn).
Forced by their mother to attend a 7 day shiva for their deceased father, the group finds former resentments, former loves and current problems close to wrecking it all...
This Is Where I Leave You brings together an impressive ensemble and then largely wastes them in this chick-flick sentimental sap-fest that borders on the bland and pedestrian in places as it wallows in suburban angst.
Half the problem is that supporting characters don't have enough development in this crushed cast; Bateman dials in his ever watchable charismatically depressed turn as the sad-sack Judd, whose life is falling apart; Driver brings his goofy edge to the baby playboy of the family and Fey flits between edges of comedy and drama as the sister who's still in love with the boy across the road who's suffering because of their past.
Orbiting these characters and their emotional baggage is a tough job already, but there's not enough dramatic meat on the bones for the rest of them. Hahn's frustrated wannabe mother who's unable to conceive, Olyphant's distant ex-love, Stoll's older brother and Britton's love interest to playboy Phillip are simply shells of characters, brought in to serve the narrative and do little to propel the drama.
And yet, in parts, there are moments of sentimentality and issues touched upon which will resonate with older audiences; mortality, loves lost, fertility issues - the broad spectrum of potential moping material is likely to hit somewhere and at some point in the rather muted This Is Where I Leave You. It's all perfectly serviceable fare that trundles along while teetering on wallowing.
It manages to tap into the frustrations of a home-coming film, but proffers up none of the surprises from its cast; the dramatic signs are all there, but they play out so ploddingly that by the end, you'll start to feel the exasperations the cliched Altmans feel as the emotional balls-in-the-air are juggled and dirty laundry aired.