An unmemorable title for a second-rate film. Perhaps it’s meant to sound poignant and melancholy, but it has little connection to anything. It’s like a random-name-generated indie movie title, a few words floating around aimlessly, a bit like the script. It’s filled with an extensive cast of stars from the most acclaimed TV shows of recent years: Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Adam Driver (Girls), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Timothy Olyphant (Justified), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story, Nashville), Abigail Spencer (Rectify), Dax Shepard (Parenthood). It’s like The Expendables for readers of Hitfix and The AV Club. Sadly, its cast is grossly let down by a puerile script. Following the death of the father, a family of misfits and screw ups are uncomfortably made to observe the Jewish tradition of shiva, despite general dubiousness surrounding their father’s faith. Hillary (Jane Fonda) at least hopes it will be a chance to bring her children together and become close. We’re thus treated to over qualified actors making jokes about penises and feeling uncomfortable around their mother’s fake breasts, whilst growing up, discovering themselves and overcoming the burden of grief.
Interestingly, director Shawn Levy’s most recent projects have bombed at the box office. His cynical, two hour long advert for Google dressed up as a Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson comedy caper (The Internship) actually lost money. As did his robots meet Rambo encounter, Reel Steel. Even his Night at the Museum sequel barely made back its budget, which effectively means a massive loss given the cost of promotion. Same for his unmentionable The Pink Panther reboot. Presumably he’s living off the success of the first Night at the Museum film, but given the amount of chances he’s been given to make movies with big stars and lose a lot of money in the process, he must have a marvellous agent because he’s looking like a Hollywood bad omen, or probably just incompetent. This Is Where I Leave You may not be quite as offensive to his audience’s intelligence as some of those film (mostly looking at you, The Internship) but it is not a whole lot better. It has the foundations of a bitter sweet, sentimental, indie-comedy, the sort of thing everyone needs and appreciates once in a while, like a well made cup of tea. Instead it’s a soggy, disappointing waste of some fine actors.
Review by David Rank
This Is Where I Leave You is out now in the UK. Running time 103 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).