FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: A few nights ago, I saw “This is Where I Leave You,” which stars Jason Bateman (The Gift , Identity Thief ), Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock [TV series]), Jane Fonda (Klute, Barbarella), Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens, Paterson), Corey Stoll (Ant-Man, Midnight in Paris), Rose Byrne (Spy, Insidious), Kathryn Hahn (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty , Afternoon Delight), Connie Britton (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, American Ultra), Timothy Olyphant (A Perfect Getaway, Justified [TV series]), Dax Shepard (Hit and Run, Idiocracy), Debra Monk (One for the Money, The Devil’s Advocate), Abigail Spencer (Oz the Great and Powerful, Rectify [TV series]), and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation [TV series], House of Lies [TV series]). It is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb, The Internship ) and Jonathan Tropper (Banshee [TV series], Kodachrome). Four siblings must spend seven days in their old childhood home when their recently deceased father requests of them to participate in Shiva. Together, they must move past their issues built up over the years and take away something meaningful.
Fitting to watch this before I left home for my third year of college; I mean, it’s even titled “This is Where I Leave You.” It’s hard to believe I was able to stay up watching this, starting it close to eleven at night, but I guess that tells you what you need to know about the quality of this flick. Not entirely, though it surely is entertaining enough to keep you glued. The acting is solid, the chemistry is genuine, and the conflict is grounded, yet interesting, giving way to many moments to flesh out our characters. It’s a “Dan in Real Life,” where we are dealt characters who all have their own issues having to solve them under one roof in a reunion of sorts. The reunion this time around? The death of a father. “This is Where I Leave You” doesn’t boast anything inventive or original, but that’s where our characters fill the void. I enjoyed this cast as they were clearly the best part of the experience. Their relationships were believable as were the situations they had to face. Notable performances came from Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver, all of whom brought unique roles that bounced off each other nicely. Of course, with these kind of flicks, humor is injected to mask our characters’ pain, and while most jokes didn’t bring a laugh out of me, they weren’t terrible. If anything, they just gave personality to our characters, and I’d rather have that than corny, dull remarks that do nothing but make me frustrated. This is a nice, warm film to just sit back, relax, and get involved in this little family to try to rationalize their lives at this very moment. There’s no big set pieces, moments of suspense, or even Oscar-worthy scenes; it just comes in, speaks its mind, then finishes out as you would expect. Conflicts resolve themselves and our characters come out having learned something about themselves. “This is Where I Leave You” didn’t wow me, but I wouldn’t say it was bad either. It has a charm that keeps you locked in for the whole journey as the writing is relatively strong in the sense of family dilemma and crafting chemistry between characters. You’ll leave either with a smile on your face or a satisfaction in having seen these people’s problems cleared up, because in one way or another they were worth the journey. Obviously, there were decisions made that I didn’t care for (one specifically concerning the mother in a third act twist), but for the most part I enjoyed what I saw. It was nice to take a rest from the usual, whether that be “Mission: Impossible” action or high-octane drama that’s meant to put me on edge. If you’re looking for an easy film to ingest that has some heart and thought, I’d say check it out. FINAL SCORE: 78%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: