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As a family comes together after the passing of the patriarch, drama from all their lives collide and many secrets are revealed.
Review (with Spoilers)
I won’t lie, I was thinking I was going to hate watching this movie. For while, I love Rose Byrne, everyone else I was sort of unsure of. Especially Jason Bateman since after The Longest Week I was beginning to think of him as a clear sign that a movie isn’t worth looking at. Though remembering he was in Juno, as well as many other films I like, perhaps it is just his most recent movies aren’t my thing. Rather than him being a dangerous name to see attached to anything like Eugene Levy. But I digress, let’s talk about the movie.
Characters & Story
Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) has just been dealt a series of blows in his life. His wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) is cheating on him with his boss Wade (Dax Shepard), and his dad dies. Something which, at any other time, would be truly horrible, but with it being a good excuse to get the hell out of town, it is something which presents mixed emotions. Though while Judd isn’t having that great of a life right now, neither are his siblings. His oldest brother Paul (Corey Stoll) is having issues with his wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn) when it comes to getting pregnant and, to make matters interesting, Annie is Judd’s ex. Then there comes Wendy (Tina Fey) who is in a rocky relationship with her husband, has two kids by him, and is now back in town where her ex Horry (Timothy Olyphant) is. Someone who pretty much is the love of her life, but guilt and tragedy keep them from being together. Leaving the youngest brother Phillip (Adam Driver) who is wild, crazy, and pretty immature. However, with the family back together for the funeral, as well as to honor the wishes of their dad, chaos ensues. All of which their mother Hillary (Jane Fonda) tries to quell, sometimes.
What I love most about this film is that the characters don’t seem like a bunch of people slapped together without any sort of connection or chemistry. Everyone in the family seems to have a genuine love for each other, and a unique relationship with one another. Especially Phillip who, smartly, the film utilizes quite well. For with the majority of the cast dealing with marital problems in various ways, Phillip/ Driver makes for an excellent comic relief.
Though this isn’t to say the rest of the cast isn’t funny. Everyone gets the chance to have their moment, but none of it feels like they are telling a joke just because. Each joke seems especially geared for who is speaking it, and seems like it fits the moment they are in. Whether it is a joke about Hillary’s new breast, Wendy’s son who likes to poop outside, or even the jokes shared between Penny (Rose Bryne) and Judd.
Leading to one last thing worth praising: The movie doesn’t end with things wrapped up in a pretty bow and everything resolved. Something I quite liked for it really made it seem we were spending about a week with a real life family, rather than seeing characters who appear and disappear once the movie begins and ends, and seem like their lives will cease to exist. Though I must admit, it does leave you wanting answers. But this is based off a book so answers may be within there.
When it comes to criticism, I must admit I felt, probably due to my own prejudice, not really into the movie when it started. For with the way Fey delivered the news about the dad dying, with her having a horrible sad/ crying face, my eyes were rolling and I was already starting to get antsy to leave. But as things became more genuine, I realized it was just me. Making it so the only real issue I had was those which I made up in my head due to preconceived notions.
Overall: Worth Seeing
This is one of those rare films which are ensemble pieces and works. For with most doting too much on one character’s story, or perhaps one being really strong while the rest of them are weak, usually, you get a lopsided feature when so many recognizable names are sharing a film. However, This Is Where I Leave You somehow finds a good balance so everyone gets to be established, becomes uniquely lovable, and leaves you with the hope something better is on the horizon for them. Hence why I’m labeling this as worth seeing.