The family dramedy is a tried and true example of quality modern day cinema. Conflicts among relatives can make for some truly interesting storytelling. Fighting can often test the bond of even the closest of family units and the latest film This Is Where I Leave You is a prime example of that. The film has an ensemble cast full of Hollywood comedic A-listers and a screenplay rife with sharp wit, realism and plenty of heart. It is a film perfect for both those craving pure escapism and at the same time, those seeking a movie which is devastatingly authentic and may hit close to home.
The Altmans are your standard dysfunctional upper middleclass family. When the patriarch passes away, the motley crew is brought back to their house for one week to sit shiva, a Jewish tradition requiring family members and friends to sit and mourn for seven days straight. The Altman clan is a colorful bunch consisting of four siblings and a fearless offbeat mom played delightfully off-kilter by Jane Fonda. Unofficial leader of the siblings Judd (Jason Bateman) is having an extra difficult time since he recently caught his wife (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his boss (Dax Shepard). Wise sister Wendy (Tina Fey) is supportive of her family no matter what. Paul (Corey Stoll) is a hot-headed alpha male who’s having issues getting his wife (Kathryn Hahn) pregnant and Phillip (Adam Driver) keeps things light and fun, being the youngest sibling who is also quite often, the least mature.
The cast in This Is Where I Leave You is quite impressive and each of these gifted actors play off of one another beautifully. Jason Bateman seems to be channeling Michael Bluth from the oddly similar Arrested Development and his straight man routine never gets old, certainly a welcome addition to this film. Adam Driver continues to prove his worth in the movie business and his ludicrous behavior and unique brand of humor suit this film quite well. There are two subplot romances. One is between Bateman and Rose Byrne’s character but unfortunately, it isn’t developed enough for anyone to really care. The same can be said for Fey’s Wendy and Timothy Olyphant’s character which is brief but heartbreaking. In addition, there are some really funny moments with Jane Fonda and her bosom, which has been recently surgically enhanced.
This Is Where I Leave You is a strong way to start the fall movie season. It is a story pretty much anyone can relate to and the performances are of the highest caliber. The script is also top notch. Author Jonathan Tropper actually adapted his novel of the same time and the results are simply terrific. His dialogue is not only funny but it oozes with tenderness and sincerity rarely found in screenplays these days. This Is Where I Leave You is a film that pretty has it all. It hits a lot of the right notes and will certainly resonate with audiences. Bateman leads the charge and everyone else in the film should be commended as well since this is a true dramedic gem.
This Is Where I Leave You will be released theatrically on September 19th, 2014