Chad White, Left No One, Always Left Over Text
Book to movie adaptations are always a mixed bag. The original readers of the book always have complaints that the movie wasn’t similar to the text from which it spawned. I have no idea if that is such the case with This Is Where I Leave You. If the book is as sloppy as the movie makes it appear to be, then I don’t want to touch that book at all.
This Is Where I Leave You stars Jason Bateman who just can’t seem to catch a break (in real life). He’s a super funny guy, he’s just never in super funny things. He plays a producer of a radio show starring a douchebag played by Dax Shepard. Bateman finds DJ Shepard and his wife Quinn, played by the very cute Abigail Spencer, in bed together on her birthday. To make matters worse, weeks later Bateman finds out that his father has passed. This is the point when we’re introduced to his sister Wendy (Tina Fey), mother Hillary (Jane Fonda), brother Paul (Corey Stoll) and other brother Phillip (Adam Driver). The family dynamic works pretty well here as we can easily believe these people are related. Each person has a funny line to say at most times with varying degrees of laughter to follow. Tina Fey is mostly toned down here as a sister with a large family and a husband who works too much. Stoll’s Paul is trying to get his wife, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), pregnant to no avail. And Driver and Fonda are caricatures of people I’d totally want to meet.
Brining the family together for the funeral was fun at first but it began to wear on the five of them. There wasn’t enough room and Jane Fonda used her therapist techniques to analyze her children. In their father’s will, it was requested that the entire family sit Shabbat for five days (the act of sitting and resting in respect to the dead).
There are moments throughout the film where the family tires of each other’s bullshit and it begins to get to the audience. Points of the movie slow down and serve nothing to move the story along. And there is one instance where Driver’s character is hinted to have done something and it’s not explained or brought up at any point. You’ll see it when it happens but the movie seems to forget about it. It’s such a glaring oversight that it brings down the logistics of the movie.
This Is Where I Leave You is an okay adaptation of a well-received book. Director Shawn Levy does a relatively decent job with what writer of the book and movie Johnathan Tropper gives him. Although, he doesn’t give him much. The actors do their part to make tired jokes funny or put up with each other’s antics for so long. Go see This Is Where I Leave You for the actors and disregard the writing all together.