Unhinged comedy – If there was one thing you can count on in Hollywood these days, it would be the lack of originality. So often we get a similar story reinvented with a new director and cast to make us think it’s something new when it’s not. This happens a lot with comedies, yet no one talks about it making me wonder if people really care. Because the truth is, if it’s funny enough everything else will wash away like it does with the new comedy “This is Where I Leave You.”
The story here…follows one Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) and his insane family for a week after their father dies. For Judd, the passing of his father couldn’t have been any worse after catching his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) cheating on him with his boss (Dax Shepard) in their bed. But, with his Dad’s dying wish being Shiva, a week-long Jewish mourning event for close family, Judd had no choice but to pick himself up and go home. Meeting him there was his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) and her family, his brother Paul and his wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn) and his younger brother Phillip (Adam Driver) and his girlfriend Tracy (Connie Britton). The four siblings, along with their mother Hillary (Jane Fonda), were to sit in the house they grew up in and essentially mourn together. And while that might sound simple, it wasn’t for this group, as it wasn’t too long into the first hours of Shiva that they started bickering with one another. It was then you started to realize this family was just like one you might know, as just as soon as you thought they all were about to throw in the towel on the week, they began to come together leading to as conclusion full of drama, reality and plenty of laughs.
Acting up – Any cast these days led by Jason Bateman will probably be one to take notice of, as not everyone can jell with him. That’s no slight on him, just a simple truth about the type of comedy he excels at, which is dark. And this was dark, plus some which really allowed the cast to go in out of some truly serious, yet hilarious moments. That’s to the credit of writer Jonathan Tropper who made sure the cast could get the most out of his script based off his book of the same name. And leading that charge was certainly Jason Bateman, who I think doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Maybe it’s the roles he chooses or maybe there are just a lot of people that haven’t seen him in the early episodes of “Arrested Development.” Because had they seen him there, they would have been hooked like I have been ever since he popped back onto the scene in “Juno.” That said, he was not alone as pretty much everyone fit nicely into their respective roles, including Tina Fey, who I haven’t always been the fan of. But, here, I really enjoyed her making me wonder why we haven’t seen this more subtle side to her before. It was nice and needed to work against the rest of the madness occurring with her on-screen family. However, I doubt this film would have been as strong as it was without Adam Driver, who many people including yours truly haven’t seen much of before this. Like Fey, he really helped balance this cast out in a way that made you want more making you wonder why we haven’t seen him much before this.
Family ties – No matter what you might think of your own family, it’s hard not to relate to the one featured in “This Is Where I Leave You.” That’s both on purpose and by accident as I can only imagine the talks director Shawn Levy and writer Jonathan Tropper had early on when planning this film. And because this is truly some dark humor, I doubt the majority accepts it, which will also be why it leaves theaters before anyone realizes. That’s too bad as this film deserves to be seen by anyone reading this, for it offers one of those stories that you can’t help but laugh at for everything it is and isn’t. Plus it features a lovable cast that gets better and better the longer you watch them, which is quite rare from a darker comedy.
Bottom Line – “This Is Where I Leave You” might not be the most original idea to hit the big screen, but who cares when it’s this enjoyable. All too often we get caught up with what a movie should or shouldn’t be and lose track of why we wanted to see it in the first place. So, whatever your reason might be, trust it and go see this film as there are worse ways to spend your hard earned money on.
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