Movie Review: This Is Where I Leave You.
Directed By: Shawn Levy.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda.
When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.
This Is Where I Leave You is the newest comedy from director Shawn Levy (Night At The Museum) and features one of the best casts of the year. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, newcomer Adam Driver and Corey Stoll play four siblings who return to their childhood home for their fathers funeral. When they get there they are told by their mother (Jane Fonda) that their father's dying wish was for them all to stay in the same house for one week together.
Other than the five actors previously mentioned, the film also stars Rose Byrne (Neighbors), Timothy Olyphant (Die Hard 4) and Dax Shephard (The Judge), now with a cast this good, what could possibly go wrong? A lot as it seems.
Whenever it looks like the impressive cast might get the opportunity to just act, director Shawn Levy steps in and disturbs the film. Every so often the film would border on being funny or tear jerking but Levy never leaves the camera on long enough for those moments to become fully realized.
The premise for the film is very simple but it really is just an excuse to get all these great actors in the same room together and that's fine because the acting talent involved here is great. Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses 2) yet again proves he's one of the most under appreciated comedic actors in Hollywood, it was nice to see Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) in a lighter role here but the real standout here is Adam Driver (Star Wars Episode VII) who earlier this year proved he had serious comedic timing with his supporting role in "What If". Driver brings a tremendous amount of energy to the film and he was easily the best character in the movie.
You'll notice I only mentioned the main male actors there because the actresses aren't given much to do at all. These are some of the most cliche and underwritten female characters I've seen in a long time. Tina Fey (30 Rock) plays the sister of the group and there is nothing else to her character other than being the sister. She's given a nice moment with Adam Driver towards the end but her character is only there to add some feminism to the siblings. Rose Byrne and Abigail Spencer play specific ideas of women and that was surprisingly made clear in an actual line of dialogue in the film.
Its a terrible shame that this great cast is reduced to cliche scene after cliche scene and the film never strikes to be hilarious or emotional. A couple of moments in the film may provoke a laugh from you but that's mainly from the performances, never from the lackluster dialogue.
This Is Where I Leave You is simply too crowded, there are several characters that could have easily been written out including those played by Rose Byrne, Timothy Olyphant and Connie Britton. Rose Byrne plays Judd's (Bateman) old high school sweetheart, Olyphant plays Tina Fey's teenage love and Connie Britton shows up as Adam Driver's therapist/girlfriend.
Throughout the film I couldn't help but think how much more I liked the actors in the movie than I liked the actual characters they were playing because none of them get enough development for them to feel real. We never get an understanding of why these four drifted apart or what their relationship was like with their father.
The chemistry between all of the actors was great, in fact it couldn't be better. At times this did really feel like a genuine family but not because of the writing, because of the actors chemistry with one another.
The film does have a few very sweet and cliche moments that have to be in a movie like this but whenever the film strives for the sweet and genuine moment, it will be interrupted by an immature joke.
Levy tries to mesh the humor scenes with the dark scenes and he's simply not talented enough to pull that off. His attempts ended up with clashing tones in the film.
This Is Where I Leave You is complete sitcom fiction contrived from bullshit. But throughout the movie I had a smile on my face because this is very entertaining bullshit. The script isn't very good but now and again a very funny line would come out of it, unfortunately most of them are featured in the trailer.
Critiquing this film I realized there are many flawed aspects of it, but as a movie fan, this is one of my sweet spots, I like feel good family comedies that rely on cliches and that is exactly what This Is Where I Leave You is, so yes it is very flawed, it has several underwritten characters and a poor directing effort by Shawn Levy but its an easy watch and it will hopefully leave you with a smile on your face.
This was a tricky film for me to review purely because the critic side of me has an opposing opinion to the movie fan side of me. The film isn't great, but its fun and I had a good time watching it, I'm going to give it a 6.8/10!
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