How could a film so packed with comedic talent (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant) fall almost completely flat on its face? It all starts with a lack of direction, subplots galore, flat jokes and clichés. Like the best of dramedies, laughter and tears are supposed to fill us up equally throughout the film. Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum and The Internship) does the opposite of that by leaving the viewer so frustrated you feel cheated by the end of the film. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you This Is Where I Leave You, this falls biggest disappointment.
Although, at times the film did have its moments (mostly from Bateman and Fey) its not enough to up hold the rest of the films mess. A 2009 bestseller by Jonathan Trooper (script writer for this film as well), tells the story of a Jewish-family dysfunction with every cliché thrown into the mix. With the recent passing of her atheist husband, Holly Altman (Fonda) gathers up her entire family (Bateman, Fey, Stoll and Driver) for Shiva (a period of seven days' formal mourning for the dead). The Altman family is finally all back together to sit, mourn, bicker and laugh. The film wouldn’t have been so bad if it would of just focused on the main relationship between the Altman family.
Instead, Levy and Trooper add in too many subplots (Bateman’s wife cheated on him with his boss, Fey is married to some douchebag but loves someone else, Stoll’s wife can’t get pregnant and Fonda turns out to be a lesbian) that drown the film out of its core message and pleasant moments. There were moments in the film that did shine. Bateman and Fey’s chemistry was on par and funny. Also, the entire getting high in the temple scene was pretty humorous as well. But those good moments were always followed by bad ones like: Fonda’s boob-job jokes, baby poop jokes and Driver turning out to be an obnoxious asshole halfway through the film. Sadly, Levy leads his cast astray from the film leaving the viewer’s disconnected.