You look at the cast of This Is Where I Leave You, and you see so many encouraging names. Tina Fey is a beloved comedic talent, for example. There are also folks such as Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne and even Jane Fonda, a veritable legend. It seems encouraging, that list of names, does it not? Then, you remember that Ms. Fey’s movie career is not quite as successful as her television one, and that many of these names don’t necessarily have esteemed filmographies. However, to be fair, it is hard to blame any of these actors for the cinematic atrocity that is This Is Where I Leave You. There is not a cast alive that could have salvaged this flaming garbage barge of a film.
The plot is simple in concept and could have easily been handled in a humorous or insightful manner. The patriarch of the Altman family has died, and it is his final wish for his family to sit Shiva for him, even though he wasn’t Jewish. Fair enough! This is an acceptable premise. Some estranged, quirky family members come together. Lessons are learned, laughs are had and emotions are emoted. This could have happened. Instead, the poor, unsuspecting viewer is served up a big slab of awfulness.
This is one of the most tedious, least funny films in recent memory. The jokes are of the laziest, faux-bawdy variety. It is one thing to rely upon sex jokes and various bits of scatological humor. This can be done well, but This Is Where I Leave You is not up to the task, as groan-worthy joke upon groan-worthy joke are delivered. These are talented people who deserve better than this dreck! On the other hand, it’s not like anybody is really raising the level of the material. Fey, for all her skills, is not the most effective dramatic actor, and the others can’t be blamed for by and large sleepwalking through the movie.
When This Is Where I Leave You isn’t being outright bad, it’s being dull. You want something to just happen already, until something actually happens and it is terrible and you regret ever wishing for something to happen. It doesn’t work comedically. It doesn’t work emotionally. (At least the film looks all right, if only for the solid, unspectacular directing of Shawn Levy.)
See This Is Where I Leave You is one of those film-going experiences where the previews are more pleasant than the film itself, even if they aren’t particularly good previews. This isn’t merely a flat slog of a movie. It is proof that even with the most talented of casts you can make a spectacularly bad film. This is the only real superlative that can be bestowed upon This Is Where I Leave You; it arguably does the least with the most of any film of recent vintage.
Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Drivers, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Jane Fonda
Release Date: Sept. 19, 2014