Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: This Is Where I Leave You

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
"This is Where I Leave You" is a film I could almost recommend. Despite its resorting to cliches familiar to anyone who has ever seen a comedy about a dysfunctional family, the picture is occasionally funny and fairly agreeable.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Jonathan Tropper, the film spends a week in the lives of the Altman family as they gather to sit shiva for their patriarch following his death. Each of the film's characters comes equipped with their own baggage.

First, there's Judd (Jason Bateman), a producer who catches his wife in bed with the loud mouthed radio talk show personality (Dax Shepard) for whom he works. His siblings include Wendy (Tina Fey), whose marriage is crumbling and still fancies the brain damaged man (Timothy Olyphant) who lives across the street, older brother Paul (Corey Stoll of "House of Cards"), who is taking over the family business, and wild child Phillip (Adam Driver), who shows up with his shrink, an older woman who is doubling as his weekend fling. Hillary (Jane Fonda), the clan's matriarch, also has a few secrets to hide.

The movie does not tread any new ground, but rather churns out the same type of dysfunctional indie problems to which we've become accustomed - infidelity, career decisions, difficulty conceiving a child, old flames, etc. There's some sweetness to be found between Judd and Penny (Rose Byrne), a woman who remained in the small town where the Altman kids grew up and always nurtured a crush on Bateman's character. She spends much of her day taking laps around an ice skating rink with a pretty decent '80s soundtrack.

One of the film's problems likely stem from those behind the camera. The picture is directed by Shawn Levy, who is primarily known for comedies such as "Night at the Museum" and "The Internship." Here, he directs a drama infused with comedic bits as if it were a sitcom and some of the running gags (a child who is not shy about sharing his bathroom rituals, Fonda's boob job) just aren't that funny.

So, "This is Where I Leave You" is essentially a mixed bag. But while I can't exactly endorse it, you could do a lot worse during a trip to the multiplex, considering some of the other pictures currently playing.

No comments:

Post a Comment