Movie review – Over-the-top family drama

2014-10-19 15:00

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Despite featuring a stellar cast, This is Where I Leave You is lukewarm fare, where the laughs get fewer as the minutes drag on, writes Gayle Edmunds

Film: This is Where I Leave You (Nu Metro)

Director: Shawn Levy

Featuring: Tina Fey, Jason Bateman

Rating: 2/5

The circuit is lousy with this kind of family reunion stuff, so if you are going to make a movie like this, it needs to stand out from the crowd, and it needs to capitalise on its cast. If, as in this case, your cast is full of people who generate the laughs in some of the hottest shows on TV, your audience expects to laugh – a lot.

Alas, This is Where I Leave You fails to be more than the sum of its impressive parts. The flick is based on a book written by Jonathan Tropper, who also wrote the screenplay. Perhaps this is the problem with the script – a fresh pair of eyes for a new medium would have given it better flow.

With Tina Fey and Jason Bateman headlining, I was totally up for a good laugh – and there were one or two for starters – but before long, the action gets mired in over-the-top family drama – and this is where director Shawn Levy loses it.

Levy is a well-seasoned if patchy comedic director who has the likes of the Night at the Museum franchise and Date Night on his CV. So on paper he should have pulled this off.

The story is about four adult siblings who return to their mother (Jane Fonda) and childhood home to sit shiva for their father. That means seven days at home with nothing to do but reminisce and catch up.

It’s a disaster.

Bateman’s character has just caught his wife in bed with his boss; Fey’s character is married to a self-centred ponce; the youngest brother, played by Adam Driver, is dating a woman nearer his mother’s age than his; and the oldest brother, played by Corey Stoll, is desperately trying to get his wife knocked up.

Bateman has made some risky choices in film – The Change-Up and The Switch – but this choice is just blah. Fey, too, should stick to writing her own stuff – at least then she’ll be assured a decent role and not that of the put-upon sister who doubles as a mother when her own is inappropriate.

Speaking of inappropriate mothers, the only reason this film is worth watching is to see how fantastic Fonda looks. She will turn 77 in December and she looks about 50 – all that aerobics in the 1980s must have given her collagen extra lift.

In the end, This is Where I Leave You is probably best left for when it goes out on TV in a year or so.

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