Review of: This Is Where I Leave You
I have a theory about families. Every family is dysfunctional. It’s just a matter to what degree. And when it comes to the Altmans in Sean Levy’s movie This Is Where I Leave You the dysfunction is up there a bit. Let me summarize the family and their stresses/dysfunctions for you.
Hillary (Jane Fonda) – The wife and mother, who is a therapist and author and embarrassingly frank and open intimate and family matters.
Judd (Jason Bateman) – The solid never-take-a-risk son who has just divorced his wife because she slept with his dick boss. He also has a kind of nutty, ex-flame back in town.
Wendy (Tina Fey) – Mother of two and “mom” to little brother Phillip, has a husband who is an uncaring asshole. She is also still in love with a neighbor who is brain damaged from an accident they were both in a long time ago.
Paul (Cory Stoll) – The older brother who is running the family business and can’t get his wife pregnant.
Phillip (Adam Driver) – The baby and screw-up of the family. He is currently “engaged to be engaged” to an older woman who used to be his therapist (can you say “mommy issues”?).
Mort – The father who has passed away and is the reason why everyone is together after years avoiding each other.
It was the father’s last request that his family should Sit Shiva (sitting together for 7 days to mourn) that keeps this mess of a family together much longer than they would prefer. Kind of like a pressure cooker. But it is a pressure cooker with equal parts of sadness, warmth and humor as ingredients.
I enjoyed this film immensely. Director Sawn Levy and writer Jonathan Tropper showed us a family we can enjoy being with. We all can relate, to maybe a lesser degree, what they are going through, and we want them to come through this better. When we are laughing, it feels like we are not really laughing at their expense.
And the dialog is smart, funny and very real. Scenes have family talking at and annoying each other all at the same time. Don’t tell me that didn’t happen at your house last Thanksgiving.
The cast was a dream to watch and hear. Tina Fey and Jason Bateman are two of the finest comedic and drama actors today. Their scenes together were the highlights of the film. I have to also make special mention of Ben Schwartz as Rabbi Charles Grodner (aka Boner). He plays to perfection the alternating, too serious, then too hip guy that all of the Altmans can’t help but tease.
You should see this movie, because it reminds us of those times in our own families where someone said to us something like, “you’re idiots, but you’re my idiots”.