When their father dies, four adult siblings are forced to shit Shiva in their childhood home for a week, in accordance with their dad’s wishes. While there, they encounter people from their past, various partners and the ones that got away.
The idea of returning home is always one that is filled with nostalgia, as last week’s The Judge showed us, but as the Robert Downey Jr film also told us, returning home is often fraught with tension and filled with secrets.
The cast for This is Where I Leave You is filled with familiar and beloved faces, with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Rose Byrne, Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn and Corey Stoll all turning up on screen. While each gives a strong enough performance to make their characters work – Bateman returning to his wheelhouse of the put upon everyman – there are so gosh darn many of them, and so much going on, that they are often drowned out by the sheer amount of story going on.
Jonathan Tropper adapted the screenplay from his own novel, so it is safe to say that he was familiar with the story and the characters; the trouble with this is that Tropper may have been too attached to his characters to allow some of them to take a back seat, so the film is filled with squabbling, overlapping storylines and entirely uncomfortable jokes about Jane Fonda’s boobs. A more ruthless cut could have allowed Fey and Bateman to step to the fore – which is obviously what was attempted here – but instead we have a film filled with unhappy people, shouting at one another in pretty rooms.
Shawn Levy’s last big screen outing was the utterly painful The Internship, so it is good to see that This is Where I Leave You is a distinct improvement on that waste of time, but This is Where I Leave You struggles to step out from the shadow of Death at a Funeral, and almost does so, until all the other storylines come crashing in. That said, each of the characters carries their roles well, with Fey and Bateman just about managing to stand out before Adam Driver swoops in and steals the show.
This is Where I Leave You is a vast improvement on The Internship but never quite manages to live up to its promise. Fey, Bateman and Driver shine, but there is far too much going on in one house – never mind the film – for the film to be anything other than messy. Resolution arrives, but takes its sweet time, leaving This is Where I Leave You feeling drawn out and sprawling.