This Is Where I Leave You
- Katherine McLaughlin
- 20 October 2014
A star cast, including Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, fails to lift this dispiriting dramedy
Jane Fonda is the oversharing matriarch of a grieving family forced to sit Shiva after their father passes away in this disappointing dramedy from Shawn Levy, with a screenplay from Jonathan Tropper, adapting his own novel.
A starry ensemble cast – which includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Corey Stoll as the mourning brood – keeps your attention, but cheap gags detract from some of the more keenly observed humour. The combination of sometimes acerbic wit and trite self-help book advice doesn’t sit right either.
Rose Byrne appears as Penny, a potential love interest to Bateman’s protagonist, Judd Altman, who at the start of the film finds his wife in bed with his loathsome boss Wade (Dax Shepard, excelling at playing a self-centred pig). Judd is supposed to be the film's most sympathetic character but he's a guarded man with intimacy issues who develops a hateful attitude toward women, which makes him difficult to root for.
Approaching the complexities of adult life and the strife of facing the past in such a shallow fashion dulls both the comedy and drama. The screenplay flails around wildly in tone and telegraphs romantic outcomes very early on. In comparison to something like Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, which tore into its immature protagonist and explored the often difficult road of going home with raw honesty, Levy's latest plays out in a safe and predictable manner. Though some of the family dynamics ring true, each character is presented with irritatingly broad strokes.
General release from Fri 24 Oct.