Thursday, January 8, 2015

This Is Where I Leave You

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If more great actors were jammed into this film it would break reality as we know it.

This Is Where I Leave You – 4 out of 5

All families are dysfunctional.  You try to claim otherwise you might find your pants suddenly burst into flames.  The thing that makes families functional is the fact they don’t function.  It’s through the insanity of being related that makes families special and I absolutely love it when films come out that make a spectacle of this dysfunction.
I'll be honest, even hurt I couldn't just sit there and stare at the would be
all gone and I would hate myself more and talk about how I have a weight problem
and then eat more cake...

I think Dax Shepard needs to be in more movies.
Make that happen, Hollywood...I command it.
Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) isn’t having a very good time.  He came home early to find his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) cheating on him with his boss (Dax Shepard) and then, later, learns his father has passed away.  Now his mother Hillary (Jane Fonda) is calling for the family to come home and sit shiva—forcing the family to stay together for an entire week and mourn with friends and loved ones.  The problem is staying for a week takes its toll on them because the entire family is dealing with their own personal struggles.  Judd’s sister Wendy (Tina Fey) is trying to cope with an inattentive husband and seeing her former love (Timothy Olyphant) isn’t helping things. 
At this point, if Tina Fey is in it, I will watch it.

Judd’s older brother Paul (Corey Stoll) is having fertility issues with his wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn).  Judd’s younger brother Phillip (Adam Driver) is dating an older woman that was his psychiatrist (Connie Britton).  And, aside from the issues that Judd is already exposed to, he has to deal with the embarrassment of his mother’s oversharing and flaunting nature (read that as she got breast implants and isn’t afraid to talk about sex) and, at the same time, try to deal with a new development with his unfaithful wife while reconnecting with a girl from his past that still carries deep feelings for him (Rose Byrne).  All this is overseen by the local rabbi and former childhood friend of the family; Charles Grodner—who they lovingly call Boner.
Jean-Ralphio became a rabbi?

This Is Where I Leave you is filled with a great cast and it has a lot of tender moments and humorous antics.  However, the filled is deeply flawed—and I know me saying that makes you confused because I gave it one score below my perfect one.  However, the film did speak to me and I was able to acknowledge the films shortcomings but still love it.
Laying on ice seems romantic in movies but, in reality, it leaves you cold, wet,
and miserable.

Go ahead, it's okay to say awww.
Without a doubt, the best thing about this movie is the great cast.  There wasn’t a single player in the film I didn’t enjoy and they all did their roles exceptionally well.  Adam Driver easily went on to be a show-stealer for me because he was the most amusing and had some of the best bits but no one was in any way the low man on the monkey bars with this one (is there a low end to monkey bars?  I haven't been on the things since I was 7 and I'm a little rusty on the layout of playground equipment.  I think that metaphor got away from me there).  Everyone was very entertaining to watch but, even better, is the fact that they all really came off like a real family and they all shared a very palpable chemistry.  This is easily one of the things I loved the most and why I was able to look passed the things that didn’t work the best in the film.
We already know the lame caption that would go here, it goes something like,
"I know two things that really worked..." yadda yadda yadda, we all hate ourselves
a little bit more now for that.

The major drawback I had with This Is Where I Leave You is the fact that there is a shit-ton of stuff going on in the story.  Literally every character has some major shit that could easily be its own movie happening.  Even Timothy Olyphant’s character has some major backstory going on.  His character has a brain injury (that is revealed to have some connection to the relationship he had with Wendy) and he can’t leave town and must stay with his mother because of it.  The reveal that occurs with this character and the character of Wendy is pretty heavy but it isn’t focused on that deeply. 
Additionally, it's Timothy Olyphant and having more of him is not a bad thing at all.

This happens quite often in the story.  Paul and his wife Annie have some issues with fertility that comes and goes in the story, Phillip is battling maturity issues with his therapist girlfriend, Wendy is battling her business-prone husband for attention and, of course, Hillary is dealing with the loss of her husband and trying to spend some quality time with her family…and figure out some way to reveal a secret to them.  There is just so much going on in the story that it is hard to really spend any significant amount of time on any combination of elements. 
Corey Stoll kinda looks like he's about to have an appendage rip out of his mouth
like the vampires in the FX series he's in.

For the most part, all the elements are covered well enough that you can sympathize with the characters and have a basic understanding of what is happening to all of them but with the lack of focused attention all these elements get, it’s easy to see the story as a jumbled mess of dangling plot threads.  After the film was over, I wished the running length was slightly longer so more time could be giving to all these dramatic and funny moments.
Adam Driver was definitely my favorite player in this film, his character was a lot
of fun.  Can't wait to see what he brings to the table in Star Wars Episode VII.

I won’t lie and try to argue that This Is Where I Leave You isn’t without its problems but for director Shawn Levy’s first R-rated feature, it’s not a bad start.  Sure, the story is jam packed with tons of drama and backstory that aren’t given equal treatment or feathered out as much as it needs to be but the drama is touching enough, the humor is satisfying enough, and the cast is talented enough that these shortcomings weren’t enough to kill my enjoyment of it.  Maybe it’s because I can relate to some things in the film or the fact that the cast is composed of people I really, really enjoy but the sorta sloppy presentation the story takes wasn’t that distracting for me and I loved this film.

Isn't this touching...their sharing memories telepathically.

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