Movie Review: ‘This is Where I Leave You’ Cast Rise Above Story’s Predictability


Preston Barta // Critic

this_is_where_i_leave_youTHIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU | 103 min. | Rated R | Director: Shawn Levy| Stars: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant and Dax Shepard

Rating: ☆☆☆

An all-star cast is usually the harbinger of a doomed movie, but Shawn Levy’s film adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s novel, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is one of the few exceptions. While it is full of tropes and you know exactly where it is heading, the impressive cast and the storyline are just irresistible and lovely.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU chronicles the foibles of the dysfunctional Altman family, forced to spend a week together following the death of the family patriarch.

Yeah, this film is hastily constructed and leaves us with questions about the family’s relationship with their deceased father. However, there are many points in the film that really hit home. For instance, in one great scene, Kathyrn Hahn, who play’s the wife of one of Altman sibilings (Corey Stoll), is frustrated that she cannot have a child with her husband. She’s been desperately trying everything that she can, and you can see that it is taking a toll on her. But in the scene, she apologizes for sneaking down to the basement to fool around with her husband’s brother (Jason Bateman), who she used to date, due to her inability to get pregnant. But Bateman’s character explains how much easier it is to have a baby than to find a love as strong as the one she has. It is moments such as this that really rise above the film’s contrived scenes.

There are so many takeaways and bits throughout this movie that it is tough to be cynical, like most critics have been towards this movie. Like THE FAMILY STONE or HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, you need movies like this, as they warm your heart and remind you just how important family is, as well as your time with them.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is playing in theaters today.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.