I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Critic
THIS 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
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.