This Is Where I Leave You

Directed by Shawn Levy
Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant
Based on the novel by Jonathan Tropper
In UK Cinemas October 24th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy takes a family drama and overinflates it with too many characters and a misguided narrative. The poor man’s August: Osage County, This Is Where I Leave You sees a family reunited to honour their dead father as they are forced to sit Shiva for seven days. Of course they are dysfunctional, not only as a unit, but as individuals.

First of all, this is the least believable onscreen family I have ever seen. While Tina Fey and Jason Bateman can pass as brother and sister with Corey Stoll blending into the background so much so that you’d forget he is even there, Adam Driver looks like he’s a different species nevermind the gene pool. I love Adam Driver and his performance is the best in the film, but whoever cast him in this role clearly just wanted a hot young It boy actor to fill the part, and no one is more up-and-coming in this category than future Star Wars star Adam Driver. While his performance is the most enjoyable role in the Altman family, it just feels like he’s in a completely different movie to the rest of the cast.

Jason Bateman clocks in his performance as central character Judd. We’ve seen him do it a hundred times before, but this performance focuses more on the dramatic than the attempted funny. Tina Fey is good, but completely underdeveloped as a character, as are all of the characters. There is too much going on in this film yet not enough.

Upon reflection, this mediocre film would make an excellent television series. Where it’s thin and light in tone and too flabby on plot, the pacing could be sorted given twelve hours of television time. Each character could get their own episode and the family dynamic could be explored on an individual level.  Perhaps then an element of empathy towards the characters and their situations could be developed.  As it stands, I found myself not caring about anyone or anything.

Between the excellent cast and possible greatness as a serial dramedy, this film does nothing but disappoint by its unfulfilled potential.


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