Judd (Jason Bateman) is having a fairly awful month. He walked in on his wife (Abigail Spencer) having an affair with his asshole boss (Dax Shepard) and has just gotten news from his sister (Tina Fey) that his father has passed. Going home for the funeral, his mother (Jane Fonda) informs him that his father’s final request was for them to sit Shiva for a week. Stuck with his siblings in his family home, and on a crappy bed in the basement, he’s got a week to figure out his life and which is the path forward. This is the premise of This is Where I Leave You, which came and went from theatres in short order because it couldn’t find an audience as counter programming.
It’s not a shame because the film doesn’t know what it wants to be: a comedy with dramatic undertones or a drama that’s also really funny.
That’s the film’s main problem, as it wants to walk that fine line of being a dramedy but doesn’t have the skill to really hone it in. This is a film about the nature of mature love, about the sacrifices we make that don’t mesh with the romantic notions of love in our youth, with some comedic moments sprinkled in. Unfortunately, This is Where I Leave You wants to be a great comedy and a great drama at the same time. It’s a problem because some moments that could’ve elicited genuine emotion wind up falling flat because there’s a tendency to either go for a punch line or try to elicit an emotion directly.
It’s a shame because there’s a ton of talent and a lot of material to work with. This is a film with a ton going for it but it can’t focus; on the one hand it wants to be really funny with moments that really hit home about the nature of family and love as we age in life. On the other it wants to be this great dramatic film with just enough levity to keep it from being too emotional. It can’t balance it out and it winds up leaving Where I Leave You uneven and flat in many ways.
Therefore, it winds up in that odd territory where it’s not a must see but it’s not a complete waste of time either.
There isn’t much special in terms of the Blu-Ray extras, just the usual electronic press kit featurettes and such.
Warner Bros. presents This is Where I Leave You. Directed by Shawn Levy. Written by Jonathan Tropper, based on his novel of the same name. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Connie Britton, Abigail Spencer, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk. Run Time: 103 minutes Rated R. Released: December 16, 2014.
Tags: Abigail Spencer, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Corey Stoll, Dax Shepard, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, This is Where I Leave You, Timothy Olyphant, Tina Fey