Title: This Is Where I Leave You
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda
Plot: A deeply divided family is forced under one roof to remember the life of their father by “sitting Shiva” in the spirit of Jewish tradition.
Why See It: I don’t remember what I expected when I sat down to watch this movie in the theatre. I certainly wasn’t expecting a Jewish funeral dramedy. Nevertheless, that is what I watched. This is not a perfect movie. It is messy, occasionally cliché and often crosses a line with its humor. None of this prevented me from enjoying it.
If any one thing struck me about This Is Where I Leave You it was the excellent performances offered up by nearly all of the cast. Bateman, in particular, shines as Judd Ultman but I found something to like in all of the performances. Without giving anything away, the fact that I both empathized with and liked these caricatures of people is quite astounding. Still, as the movie stretched on into the evening I found myself feeling a bit frustrated. I am not a director and I don’t claim any such talent but this film really should have been shorter. The outlandish dysfunction of the Ultman’s begins to wear thin after a while in terms of both entertainment value and believability. As they ramp up the dysfunction, the film’s sentimentality felt less and less earned. Thankfully, the proceedings ended on a strong note that I dwelled on far longer than any sloppiness in the film’s second half.
This may not be the best film of the year but it doesn’t have to be. The film’s dramatic and comedic notes complement each other far more often then they clash and the cast is engaging far more often than ridiculous. Is this film uncomfortable? Most definitely. Thankfully, I was in the mood for some discomfort.