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New Release Review - This Is Where I Leave You

A dysfunctional family are stuck with each other during a week of prayer following the patriarch's funeral.

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Timothy Olyphant, Connie Britton, Dax Shepard, Kathryn Hahn




There are few storylines more cliched than that of the forty-something big city dweller making a return to their home town, where they rediscover the simple innocence they lost somewhere along the way. The sub-genre seems to be undergoing a revival lately. In the last few weeks alone we've seen The Judge, in which Robert Downey Jr returns to the small town of his youth for a funeral, and The Best of Me, in which James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan return to the small town of their youth for a funeral. Now we have This Is Where I Leave You, in which Jason Bateman...yep, you guessed it.
As is usually the case with these stories, the protagonist is having relationship troubles. Big city radio talk-show producer Judd Altman (Bateman) is blissfully unaware of this until he walks in on his wife and boss together in his bed. Having quit his job and now in the throes of depression, Judd receives the news that his father has passed away, and so heads off to flyover country for the funeral. As his father was Jewish, Judd is stuck with his family for a week of shiva prayers. Hilarity ensues. Except it doesn't.
There's always an ex-lover still hanging around in these movies, and somehow they always seem to have remained single despite being played by attractive stars. In this case it's Rose Byrne as the perm-haired Penny, a too good to be true small town gal who seems to have saved herself for the last two decades, awaiting the return of Judd, who wastes no time in getting her into bed. Judd's sister Wendy (Fay) also hooks up with a past lover. In a highly contentious sub-plot, she hops back into the bed of old flame Horry (Olyphant), who is now mentally challenged thanks to a car accident caused by Wendy in their younger days. Even Nicholas Sparks would cringe at a plotline this tasteless.
Think August Osage County crossed with Meet the Parents and you'll have some idea what you're in for with this one, a combination of broad (literal) potty humour and ruminations on the meaning of family. There's nothing here you haven't seen before in the hometown return genre. If you really yearn for this sort of thing, revisit Grosse Point Blank or Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion instead.
4/10
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