Friday, September 19, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You - 2 stars

When their father dies, the Altman siblings come home for the funeral.  They are Judd (Jason Bateman), Wendy (Tina Fey), Phillip (Adam Driver) and Paul (Corey Stoll).  Their mother is played by Jane Fonda.  Once they’re all gathered at the family home, their mother informs them that their father’s dying wish was for all of them to sit Shiva.  This means they all have to stay at the house for seven days and mourn while friends come by to offer condolences.

Each of the siblings has some drama going on.  Judd recently discovered his wife has been having an affair with his boss.  Wendy is dealing with the guilt of leaving her ex-boyfriend who suffered a brain injury years before.  Paul and his wife are having trouble conceiving, and Paul’s wife used to date Judd.  And Phillip is the black sheep of the family.  He shows up driving a Porsche and dating an older woman who also happens to be his therapist.

This is a dysfunctional family comedy that isn’t really much of a comedy.  All the best jokes are in the trailer, but they work so much better in the trailer.  When I saw the same scenes in the movie, they didn’t make me laugh.  The timing was all wrong, and I wish that whoever edited the trailer had also edited the movie.

The lack of jokes wouldn’t be so bad if the movie wasn’t trying so hard to be a comedy.  I got tired of the jokes about Jane Fonda’s boob job, or the kid who’s potty training, and always carrying his little potty around to different areas of the house to poop.  And there are so many stories going on with these characters that it takes the movie a long time to develop them.  I was bored for probably the first hour of the movie.  After that, I was interested in the characters enough that I started to enjoy the movie, but that’s a long time to wait for a movie to grab you.

Bateman, Fey and Fonda were all disappointments in this movie, but Adam Driver was fun to watch.  The movie got entertaining every time he was on screen, and I wish his character had been on screen more.  There is one really fun scene where the brothers sneak away during temple to get high.  

In the hands of a better director, this might have been a pretty good movie.  The material is there and these actors are really good.  But Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel) isn’t the right director for this kind of material.  Big disappointment.

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