Regular Dude Movie Review: This is Where I Leave You

Above (l-r): Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda Jason Bateman and Adam Driver star in 'This is Where I Leave You'

Movies like this ultimately fall into a deep grey area where a tough dichotomy resides.

On one hand, it’s harmless and amusing and there are some easy-to-laugh-at moments that adult movies about familial dysfunction are supposed to contain. On the other hand, there are so many quality actors involved that most don’t get enough air to breathe and elements that could be explored deeper are left untouched.

This is Where I Leave You is the quintessential “yeah, it was okay” movie.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Just Friends, Night at the Museum, Date Night) and starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and a host of others, the film centers around the Altman family and the passing of its patriarch, Mort. His last request is to have all his children under the same roof, leading to the traditional family conflicts bubbling up all at once.

Judd (Bateman) just found his wife (Abigail Spencer) sleeping with his shock-jock boss (Dax Sheppard), but hasn’t told anyone other than his sister Wendy (Fey), who is married to a man who is married to his job. Paul (Carey Stoll) is the eldest and he and his wife (Kathryn Hayn) are trying to get preggers to the point that they’re stressed out and on a sex schedule. Philip (Adam Driver) is the baby, a man-child screw-up who comes home with a new woman (Connie Nielson) several years his senior and a therapist just like his mother (Fonda), who is a celebrity authors type fresh off a slight breast augmentation.

Add in a former flame for Wendy who lives across the street and has a brain injury, a girl from high school who had a crush on Judd and never left the quaint small town they all call home and a couple other turns and you end up with a film that is good enough, but still not as good as you had hoped.

Driver, who had is major introduction to the world through HBO’s Girls, is the best of the group as the combination of his massive frame and boyish nature are a charming juxtiposition that we should see plenty more of in the future, unless he makes the wise choice to avoid being the comedic sidekick or goofy, Seth Rogan-esque rom-com lead. He’s better than that and it shines through here, even if he’s kind of a plain character and only given minimal opportunities.

Based on the Jonathan Tropper bestseller of the same name, it feels like there were choices made to keep this film at a certain running length, which is always the case with adaptations. One can’t help but wonder how things could have been different (read: better) with an extra 30 minutes or more of time to work with.

As it stands, This is Where I Leave You gives you a Hollywood look into the realities of families and their relationships, offering a few laughs, some pumped up sentimental and earnest moments and a bunch of jokes about Fonda’s boobs.

Plus you get to listen to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” 1.25 times, which is pretty alright.

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