This Is Where I Leave You (2 stars)

This Is Where I Leave You

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.

This Is Where I Leave You sits in the long shadow cast by Ron Howard’s similarly structured Parenthood which offered far more insight, despite sharing the same fondness for Hollywood schmaltz.

General release from Fri 24 Oct.

This Is Where I Leave You - Official Trailer [HD]

This is Where I Leave You

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Shawn Levy
  • Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda
  • UK release: 24 October 2014

When Judd (Bateman)'s father dies, he goes home to to sit Shiva with mother Hilary (Fonda), sister Wendy (Fey) and brother Phillip (Driver). Though some of the family dynamics ring true, the strokes are so broad that comedy and drama are equally dulled; in comparison to something like Jason Reitman's Young Adult, it's all…