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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

This Is Where I Leave You | Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer, Connie Britton, Ben Schwartz, Debra Monk | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

This Is Where I Leave You

Billed as a dramatic comedy, This Is Where I Leave You follows the lives of the four Altman siblings who unite at their childhood home in upstate New York after their father dies, to sit Shiva (Hebrew for “seven) for one week of mourning.  Even though their Dad was an atheist, their Mom, who isn't Jewish, says it was her beloved hubby's dying wish.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night, The Internship) from Jonathan Trotter's script that he adapted from his own novel, the film features an excellent ensemble cast that, like in so many other films, are better than their material.

As in every movie about a dysfunctional family, each person carries with them some angst, emotional baggage or history. Sure enough, when gathered with other close family members, pent up anger, memories and interactions causes sparks to fly.  No one is happy, except for an adorable toddler who carries around his portable potty, and is thrilled to announce whenever he poops to whomever is close by, which results in some comical moments.

As for the adults, Jane Fonda plays Hilary, the glamorous and fit Altman matriarch and renowned shrink whose written a best selling book.  Although most of the time she is in the background, when she does appear, it is to deliver some explicit, vulgar details about her former sex life with her newly deceased husband or to flaunt her over the top boob job in a shameless attempt to provide several laughs.

When it comes to her offspring, the first Altman sibling introduced is talk show radio producer Judd Altman (the always splendid and natural Jason Batman) who feels lost and depressed after finding his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his sleazy, no good boss (Dax Shephard) that she has been having an affair with for a year.  After returning to his childhood home, it doesn't take long before Judd bumps into quirky, pretty Penny Moore (Rose Byrne) an old flame from high school and a romantic relationship is rekindled.

Wendy Altman (Tina Fey, whose hair looks fabulous, by the way), the wisecracking sister, mother of two little ones (including potty obsessed Cole), is stuck in a loveless marriage to an obnoxious workaholic husband (Aaron Lazar) that is never around.  That leaves an opening for Wendy to pine for her old boyfriend and one true love, Horry (an oddly cast, Timothy Olyphant) who suffered brain damage after a car accident. He lives next door with his mother (Debra Monk) and works at the Altman's Sporting Goods Store run by the eldest Altman sibling, Paul (Corey Stoll).

Paul (Corey Stoll) and his stressed out wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn) have been unsuccessful in conceiving a child. In a desperate attempt to get pregnant, she eventually makes a move that goes way over the line.

Phillip (Adam Driver) the youngest son, is the last to show up under his mother's roof with considerably older girlfriend Tracy (Connie Britton) that was his former therapist.  Although possessing business smarts, Phillip proves to be an immature, irresponsible jerk.

So there you have the Altman's and their personal struggles.  By reconnecting, sharing and engaging in introspective conversations as well as heated confrontations with the people that love and know them best, each are able to come to terms with their issues or be led in the right direction.

Although the characters are not the same, this territory has been visited in oh so many films that by now the premise has become overused and tired.  Even a surprise twist towards the end seems forced and not quite believable.

I won't go so far as to say This Is Where I Leave You is a terrible film. Yet, by offering up nothing new, insightful or particularly moving, what we are left with, at best, is mostly predictable and bland.

 

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