WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Tropper
DIRECTED BY: Shawn Levy
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Timothy Olyphant, Connie Britton
RATING: 2.5 stars
This Is Where I Leave You has a great cast of comedians so it is a shame that the film is so bland. The film has the odd distinction of having lots of things going on but nothing really happening with the plot. There are a few gags thrown in that are totally out of place while other jokes, such as the very obvious running quip about boobs, are repeatedly force fed to the audience. The film had so much potential and should have been so much better, but it suffers perhaps from having too many underdeveloped characters.
Adapted from Jonathan Tropper's novel by the man himself, the film tells the story of the four adult Altman children (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver) who return to their childhood home for the funeral of their father. Their mother (Jane Fonda) forces them under Jewish Shiva rules to live under her roof for a week despite the fact that none of them wants to be there.
Bateman is likeable but his character is so middle-of-the-road and lacks spine even when he is dealing with the fallout of his separation from his cheating wife. He does, however, have good chemistry with Rose Byrne who plays an alternative love interest and Fey, as his nurturing sister. Actually, Fey's character also has an interesting relationship with their childhood neighbour, played by Timothy Olyphant. We learn that they were madly in love as teenagers until he had a brain-damaging accident. There's is the most compelling story but it is so disappointingly underdeveloped. Driver is goofy and has some funny moments but his relationship with a cougar, played by Connie Britton, is totally unbelievable. Stoll is good as the other brother desperate to have a baby with his wife, played by Kathryn Hahn, but their story is not fulfilling. The twist involving Fonda's character towards the end of the film is also strange and seems to be there for laughs and shock value more than anything else.
Hollywood keeps trying to make these dysfunctional family themed films but they rarely work. This Is Where I Leave You is ultimately a disappointing experience.