This is Where I Leave You

Out Now On-Demand

Welcome home. Get uncomfortable.

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver lead this comedy-drama about an utterly disfunctional group of siblings forced to grant the dying wish of their departed father: to live under the same roof together for a week. Co-stars Jane Fonda as their newly breast-enhanced, widowed mother.

Reading Jonathan Tropper’s novel on which this film is based was oddly comforting, yet not particularly life-changing. An ordinary guy with an ordinary family (sort of), is forced to confront the reality that none of them are happy.

If that sounds grim, it’s not. Tropper’s rare gift is to make the tragedies of life tolerable through empathy and comedy, even if the subject matter happens to be death. But the contemporary setting and family-based plot inevitably meant it was more of an amusing beach read than a thrilling page-turner.

This film feels much the same. Tropper adapted the book for the screen himself, so unsurprisingly it just teeters over that fine line between heartfelt, funny (adult) family comedy and schmaltz-fest. The music is much to blame for the latter, casting its mushy pall over just about every scene.

The quippy script is handled with aplomb by a very likeable and talented comedy cast, though: Jason Bateman, the “everyman” with personality, Jane Fonda as his sexually cavalier mother and Tina Fey, who almost trips into a New York accent in her quest to play the film’s other ballsy matriarch. Meanwhile Rose Byrne, Dax Shepard, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Adam Driver and Corey Stoll give authentic performances that nonetheless don’t particularly stretch them as comedic actors.

There are a few laugh-out-loud moments – not quite enough to drag this out of dramatic tear-jerker territory – but enough to recommend it for its feelgood factor.

Variety (USA)

press

If the movie never quite masters the feel of messy, grown-up life, it at least makes a few promising salvos in that direction...

Dissolve (USA)

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Struggles in vain to meld broad, farcical comedy with low-key, contemplative drama.

Guardian (UK)

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Totally aimble, utterly unmoving filler given a major shot in the arm by its cast...

Time Out New York

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Probably the biggest sin in a movie filled with many is turning Fonda into a nymphomaniacal sight gag who makes Barbarella look like Gloria Steinem.

New York Times

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Instead of smiles or tears... most likely to inspire a Kickstarter campaign to reunite its main performers for a different project.

At The Movies (Australia)

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Fairly safe but very enjoyable adult entertainment... Fonda’s least mannered performance in years, she’s great. Driver is astonishingly good and Bateman is really solid.

Sydney Morning Herald

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It stays in safe terrain, and the ensemble cast members often feel as if they have been selected to revisit familiar characters and performances.

drama go away

Pretentious drama could kill me