I don’t care what genre of film it is, if a story doesn’t have well written characters then the story simply falls apart. With well written characters and a talented cast, This is Where I Leave You is not only entertaining and highly facetious; it is arguably, most importantly, heartfelt. There is a genuine attempt of relatability through the character’s personal, individual stories and how each of those comes together where the entire family can dissect and judge all in hilarious manner. There are the gross-out comedies with no real intentions of trying to connect with audience; they want to show boobs, people puking and taking shots to the gonads; they want shock value. Then there are the comedies that want the laughter of course but they also want something to stick that isn’t disgusting. This is Where I Leave You knows how crazy your family is and it also knows that chances are they aren’t very funny when they’re making your life miserable. This is an attempt at some levity where there might not usually be which might make you laugh at your own family nut jobs.
Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne and Corey Stoll among many others round out a very talented cast that meld together wonderfully and believably. They bring out the unstable nature that every family seems to possess and it is a joy to watch. But comedy aside, they also show a certain amount of vulnerability and imperfection that makes this story very down to earth. It feels maybe at times exaggerated but never out of reach in terms of plausibility. With Shawn Levy at the helm you would expect a certain amount of humor and this has its fair share of laugh out loud moments. A big catalyst for chuckles was Fonda’s rather voluptuous pair of fresh bikini stuffers that none of her children seem to be capable of getting over, mentally speaking. This definitely has certain cliché comedy points that it hits and the concept of a death in the family as the driving force behind a plot has been done many times prior. But where this really works is the clever dialogue and wonderful comedic timing of the entire cast. They really seemed to have a great rhythm and it shows.
The Altman family love each other but they prefer the level of contact between them to be somewhere between none and almost none. When their father dies they face the inevitable contact that comes with attending a funeral. In an unexpected turn of events, their father’s last wish was for his children to sit Shiva or to live under the same roof for seven days as a mourning period. They all know what will happen if this takes place but having no real choice they each hunker down and brace for impact, multiple impacts. As expected it is complete and utter chaos from day one, minute one. Despite all their differences however they always stick close to each other. As one character says, “You guys are idiots, but you’re my idiots.” Lovely isn’t it?
Is it familiar? Yes, quite a bit actually. Does that make it any less charismatic or humorous? Not in my opinion. Sometimes, I stress sometimes, familiarity is exactly what I want in a movie. That doesn’t mean I want reboot after reboot and sequel after sequel. Hollywood, I am talking to you. Regardless of the reused teabag that is this movie’s plot it is still quite enjoyable. It’s funny when you want it to be and even moving from time to time. It shows what it’s like being in a state of entropy and watching everyone around you ostensibly doing really well in their lives. This can make the feeling of being in limbo feel all the more lonesome and it does so with a smile on its face. There is still laughter to be found even in our darkest of moments and this film in a way tries to show us that. I think that’s kind of cool. Anyway, this won’t rock your world but it will entertain you for two hours and ultimately that’s all I was really hoping to get out of this particular jaunt to the theater.
Rated R For: language, sexual content and some drug use
Run Time: 103 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Timothy Olyphant, Adam Driver
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 2.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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