Movie Review: ‘This is Where I Leave You’

Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll

Plot: After walking in on his wife and boss in bed, Judd Altman’s live takes a downward turn. When his father suddenly passes away Rudd returns to his hometown to reunite with his family and all the issues that come with it.

Review: A fortnight ago we reviewed The Judge, in which RDJ played a man returning to his family after the death of a family member. This reignited conflicts with siblings, reintroduced him to childhood sweethearts, have a mentally disabled adult unable to leave home, features Dax Shepard in an awkward support role and are helmed by directors trying something more mature than their dinky comedy backlog. This movie…also has all those things. To be fair, this was the better vision.

this is where i leave you

Shawn Levy hasn’t impressed me with his films in the past, and this one has a couple of rocky moments, but between his work and the great chemistry between the cast it pulls together into a sweet little middle age dramedy. The beginning of the movie trots out the cliches, from Judd walking in on his skeezy boss and wife when surprising her at home early on her birthday to the awkward family funeral. During the first act it’s not always clear who is related to who and how, with some members of the cast disappearing for long stretched. Later in the film it all falls into place and finds a rhythm with all the family members garnering their own moments of sympathy and scorn. 


Bateman and Fey are both tackling roles with a bit more emotional weight than their typecast allows and they both do a great job with their roles, along with the rest of the actors rounding out the mother and siblings of the Altman’s. Every character feels layered and with their own flaws and outlook on life, and as we learn more about them they become more likeable. The only character who doesn’t quite gel is the love interest for Judd, Penny, who falls squarely in the manic pixie dream girl typecast and is quirky because of depressants. She’s not terrible, but it’s becoming an over-used trope.

It’s not a spectacular film, and it doesn’t break much new ground, but it’s filled with great performances, has plenty of good laughs and believable characters. You’d feel better for having seen it.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN