This Is Where I Leave You, 2014.
Directed by Shawn Levy.
Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, and Jane Fonda.
Comedy-drama about four siblings who reunite after the death of their father. The siblings, along with their mother, spend a week together “sitting Shiva” confronting the choices they’ve made in their past and struggling with their uncertain futures.
Sometimes a movie can premiere at a near perfect time in your life and influence your opinion of the film. Wedding Crashers opened while I was planning my own wedding. I was pregnant when I saw Knocked Up. I most likely would have enjoyed both of those films just as much 5 or 10 years earlier or later, but I’ll never know for sure.
This Is Where I Leave You follows a group of siblings who, together with their mother, spend a week in their small childhood hometown “sitting Shiva” after their father passes away. There are many things I can relate to in the film. My own father passed away a few years ago, my Mom still lives in the small town I grew up in so I occasionally run into people “who never left” when I visit, and while I don’t have 3 siblings (and I’m not Jewish) I do have one sibling (and the Altman family it turns out isn’t very Jewish either).
Perhaps most importantly if I could switch places with a celebrity I very well might choose to be Tina Fey, and if I had to switch out my husband for someone else, there are many worse choices than Jason Bateman. I think I ended up liking This Is When I Leave You more than it may have deserved because of these personal connections, but in the end any film you can personally connect with is a good film in my book.
The four siblings who return home are played by Jason Bateman, Tiny Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver. These characters and their significant others have a multitude of problems I think of as being “Big Chillish problems” as I thought of that movie quite a bit while seeing This Is Where I Leave You. Infidelity, stalled careers, infertility, commitment issues, relationship regrets – This Is Where I Leave You isn’t going anywhere many other films haven’t been before, but the acting and dialogue in the film elevate the final product into something not only entertaining, but also quite touching.
While Bateman, Fey, Stoll, and Driver do the heavy lifting, their mother in the film, played by Jane Fonda, does a wonderful job in a role that is a bit of a caricature. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role as well as Fonda did. Connie Britton and Timothy Olyphant do enough acting with their eyes to impress in very small roles that I’m guessing had a lot more meat to them in the book This Is Where I Leave You is based on. I wanted to see more of both of these characters in the film.
The cast is so large and impressive there truly is something anyone can relate to at some point in the film. There is also a genuine chemistry the actors pull off in the film that holds everything together and keeps the audience interested. This Is Where I Leave You lacks the classic soundtrack and is not nearly as dramatic at its core as The Big Chill. But it’s another great ensemble of actors in the middle part of their lives (now I feel old). It’s an awkward, funny, and sweet reunion for the characters in This Is Where I Leave You with the people they may not like very much at times, but are the ones they love the most.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Amy Richau is a freelance entertainment and sports writer. Follow her on Twitter.