This Is Where I Leave You DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist
This is Where I Leave You

The Premise
When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide-driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.

The Review
Over the years there have been plenty of films that revolved around the happenings at a funeral. Ironically most of them are comedies, perhaps this is because it would seem that weird and strangely funny things often happen when we are mourning. I guess it has more to do with that concept that great comedy comes out of strong emotional events and often complete disastrous times in our lives.

It doesn’t get more disastrous than finding your partner having an affair then learning that your father has passed away only to be faced with a funeral forced family reunion where everyone has their own issues and all overflow on to each other. This is an ensemble cast that brilliantly brings these diverse and problematic characters to life on an emotional battlefield that surrounds the death of the patriarch.

At the top of the chain comes the mother figure as played by Jane Fonda. Here is an actress who just keeps getting more interesting throughout her career. Her role as a Psychologist Mother whose frankness would be the dread of any grown up child. This form of open-ness has obviously scared the children in a variety of ways as they all struggle to truly deal with and share their own emotions and struggles. Of course that is to our benefit, as it is extremely funny if not somewhat uncomfortable to watch at times.

In the past I have kind of slammed Jason Bateman for playing the same characters in all of his films, sure he is pretty close to that same format here, however I think he does enough to differentiate the character from some of his previous ones to bring something a little newer. Normally he plays these characters that are neurotic and face challenge and yet you really don’t want to root for him because he is annoying. Here we see him in more of a likeable role where you actually do want him to win. Especially over the obnoxious boss as played by Dax Sheperd, who has mastered the role of the “Dickhead”.

Considering that this is Director Shawn Levy's first R-rated film, I think he has done a brilliant job of pushing some boundaries while still making it real and fun to watch. The only thing I would say is that Timothy Olyphant has a role in the film as a guy suffering from the results of a head injury and this character had a lot of potential to play a bigger part and even have a little more back story. The interest in him was tweaked but never fully ulitised.

The Verdict
A very fun and yet emotionally challenging comedy with a bit of a darker side thrown in. A great cast gives a solid ensemble performance to entertain audiences thoroughly.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 4th March 2015
Rating: M – Contains sex scenes, offensive language and drug use
Duration: 103 minutes 
Genre:  Comedy
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Adam Driver
Director: Shawn Levy (Real Steel, Night at the Museum 1 & 2)

The Extras
In the source novel by Jonathan Tropper, the main character, Judd, recalls a time in his childhood when he saw his mother exercising in front one of Jane Fonda's workout videos and told her that she was prettier than Jane Fonda. In this movie version, Judd's mother is played by Jane Fonda.

When the movie was going to be directed by Adam Shankman, Zac Efron, Malin Akerman, Leslie Mann, Jason Sudeikis and Goldie Hawn were cast in the lead roles alongside Jason Bateman.

The plot concerns a family "sitting Shiva," which means that they are participating in the ritual for how a Jewish family conducts itself during the first week of mourning after a loved one dies. During that time, the relatives of the deceased (his or her parents, children, siblings, and spouse) gather daily at one house and receive visitors who offer condolences (and often food). The mirrors are covered, and mourners sit on low chairs and periodically participate in the recitation of specific prayers for remembrance; tradition stipulates that condolence visitors should allow mourners to speak first so that the visitors do not say something inadvertently inappropriate to the bereaved. The Hebrew word "shiva" literally means seven, the number of days the observance lasts.

Zoe Saldana, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kathryn Hahn and Ari Graynor were considered for the lead female roles.

In the novel, the mourning family's surname is Foxman. The name was changed to Altman after difficulties in obtaining legal clearances to use the name.

Stars Rose Byrne and Debra Monk, who were both in Damages. Rose Byrne as one of the main characters, Ellen Parsons, and Debra Monk player her mother Deniece Parsons in 12 episodes.