Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You
Starring:
Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Json Bateman, Adam Driver, Abigall Spencer, Timothy Olyphant, and Corey Stoll


Rated: R for language, sexual content and some drug use.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 19, 2014 Released by: Warner Brothers

A wacky, adult farce adapted by Jonathan Tropper from his own book with Tina Fey as a cynical daughter and Jane Fonda as a WASP-ish child psychologist with some recent personal enlarging among its ensemble might seem like a New Age coupling of films like The Family Stone and The Big Chill.

Shawn Levy's This Is Where I Leave You has plenty of laugh-inducing entanglements of the intimate kind as Jason Bateman and Adam Driver play disparate brothers of the conflicted, abnormal, mostly disagreeable Altman clan whose \ matriarch is sated with candor to their detriment. The tale revolves around the complexities which arise during their reunion and mandated week-long mourning of their atheist dad by the libidinous-minded mom.

Actually, Bateman's middle son, a despondent radio producer, turns out be the most seen character, just learning of his adulterous wife (Abigail Spencer) with boss (Dax Shepard). It just happens that his old high school flame (Rose Byrne) is willing to meet his needs.

Fey's imperiousness is countered by a melancholy from the recent loss of her husband to feelings towards a former beau (Timothy Olyphant) impaired from a car crash. The family hardware store sees its boss, oldest brother (Corey Stoll) wanting to ingratiate his wife (Kathryn Hahn) who's yearning for motherhood. So much so that she's more than putting the moves on Bateman's brother-in-law.

Driver (who's made solid contributions in recent years in films ranging from Lincoln and Frances Ha to Inside Llewyn Davis) generates some hilarity as the drug-addled youngest with a new lover of a shrink, a surprisingly acrid Connie Britton of the small-screen Nashville. A nutty rabbi (Ben Schwartz) is part of the film's running gag of a prurient childhood label.

Levy, who's made the crowd-pleasing Real Steel and Date Night, maybe doesn't deftly stage it all with a finesse that having a terrifically talented cast like this might indicate, but there are some reveals that'll stun the Altmans as well as more than a few onlookers.  Just arriving before Rosh Hashanah, This Is Where I Leave You may not have enough unabashed sweetness in its dysfunctional delirium, but in its passionate, procreative allocations it evinces an effectively humanistic, if familial pulse.

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