This is where I leave you

Shawn Levy – who has brought us such entertaining films as NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, REAL STEEL, DATE NIGHT and THE INTERNSHIP brings Jonathan Topper’s novel to the big screen with his next entertaining film – THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU.(psst….. – Jonathan also wrote the screenplay so it should be pretty close .)

As we meet the Altman family, their Father has just passed away and his four children, Judd (Jason Bateman), Wendy (Tina Fey), Paul (Cory Stoll) and Phillip (Adam Driver) have all returned home to pay their last respects to their adoring Father and to console their mother Hillary (played by Jane Fonda).

Everyone seems to have nothing but chaos surrounding them in their own personal lives, which they are trying to ignore for the time being so that they can focus this one day on the loss of their Dad.    Mom is excited to see all of her children return to the nest, that she decides there is not better time than the present to share her husband’s last dying wish – which just happens to be that they all stay together for SEVEN DAYS – you know, to pay respect to their father in the Jewish tradition of “sitting Shiva”.  No one is too excited by this, as they all have lives they need to return too – besides, THEY AREN’T EVEN JEWISH!!!  But,with a little coaxing from Mom, they all decide to stay put, and try to make the best of this Bad Situation.

Everyone is questioning the absence of Judd’s wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer), who sadly wasn’t invited to this “burial soiree’” as Judd is still trying to deal with her infidelity with his boss Wade (Dax Shephard).  His sister Wendy is trying to keep things together, as she always does, even though her own marriage is on the brinks of disaster too, while brother Paul and his wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn) have their own issues going on, as they try desperately to become new parents.  It seems the only one having a good time in life right now is Phillip, the youngest of the brood, as his therapist/girlfriend Tracy Sullivan (Connie Britton), is older, super-hot and trying to make his life better than ever…..yeah baby!!

Hillary is so happy to have her children together, as they all try to keep what is happening in their lives under wraps.  But you can’t get too much past this very wise woman, as she has figured most of what is going on by day two!  All the siblings try to make the most of this HELL WEEK, as they are continually bombarded by these Jewish Faith rituals that they know nothing about….but luckily, they are being instructed by Rabi Chris Grodner – a.k.a. Boner (Ben Schwartz) – their former friend and neighbor.

Will Hillary be able to move on from the death of her beloved husband with a little help from her friend and confidant Linda (Debra Monk)?  Will Judd be able to move past Quinn’s betrayal and fix their marriage, or will a girl from his past, Penny (Rose Byrne) be his choice for movin’ on?  Will Paul and Alice’s marriage survive their infertility issues, and Alice’s past relationship with Judd? And will Phillip and his wondering ways take down yet another relationship in his crazy, messed up life?

I give THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU A B-: – I thoroughly enjoy ensemble casts, and this conglomeration of seasoned professionals did not disappoint.  The premise of this film is entertaining, especially the fact that they are following the Jewish burial traditions, even though NO ONE IN THE FAMILY IS JEWISH, and there are a few surprising storyline changes that might catch you off guard along the way too, which is always a sign of a good film.  The real life circumstances surrounding each sibling’s life are spot on, as I am sure that everyone viewing can relate to one tor more of these poor saps screwed up lives.  Certain elements throughout the film are funny too, but sadly I found parts of this film to drag a little– it was as if I wanted to ask them to MOVE IT ALONG already…….and even some of the funny scenes that I did enjoy, still lacked the belly-roll effect I was hoping for.  Needless to say, I think THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is one of those films that I was certain would be the great comedic film of the year, but once I sat in the theater and saw it unfold……it just left me hoping for so much more ;(

Kathy Kaiser