Movie: This Is Where I Leave You
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Everybody leads busy and complicated lives, which come to a halt when a family member dies. Hillary Altman (Jane Fonda) summon her four children home (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver) to spend a week together as a family observing the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva. In addition to the children, they all have spouses or significant others that are brought into the house, and very quickly inter-family jealousies, gripes and various repressed emotions surface. The house becomes a free fire zone of barbed comments with very little adult filtering taking place. Occasionally the zingers evolve into physical altercations, and even Tina Fey displays a wicked right cross to the jaw of the jerk who slept with her brother’s wife.
Make no mistake, this is a serious film. It should fall into the drama category, with frequent dialogue that may elicit a chuckle just because these characters say the things we usually think but are too polite to actually blurt out. Sometimes the Altmans seem like they may hate some of their family members, but there is a thin line between love and hate, and the emotions they have seem pretty realistic and believable when we think about our own family relations and conflicts. Not a lot of plot here, but that wasn’t the point of the movie. It mostly wants us to take that roller-coaster ride for one week, and with the stellar cast and dialogue it is worth the trip.
Actors To Watch: Jason Bateman and Tina Fey have primarily been in comedy vehicles, but they are terrific in a dramatic setting. In relatively small roles, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant are big talents to have along for support.
Huh? What the ….: There is a scene where three characters share two small joints in a public building classroom. Somehow they are able to create as much of a smoky haze as you might find in a Parisian nightclub. Ahhhhh, I don’t think so.
Someone has a two year old kid in this house, and every time we see him he’s dragged his portable potty with him. Leave it in the bathroom, for crying out loud!
Dialogue Nuggets: “Have you had your man parts checked yet?”
“Those are not the same breasts you nursed us with!’
“We want the ones we can’t have, and crap all over the ones we do have.”
“I always knew there was something of a cold-hearted slut in you.”
“I think I am going to gather up the tattered remnants of my dignity and say goodbye.”
Altman 1 – “Do you ever think before you speak?” Altman 2 – “No, that would take the fun out of it.”