This is Where I Leave You has to be one of the most polarized movies I have ever seen. Let me explain. Every critical review I read, or every person who has reviewed “This is Where I Leave You” has said that it’s a bad movie. Something that was left floundering in mediocrity despite the fact it had Oscar level actors (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver (Hello Kylo Ren) (And did I just do a parenthesis within a parenthesis? (Has an epic Deadpool moment.)), Timothy Olyphant, Corey Stroll, Jane Fonda and the likes). The people who saw it without reviewing it loved it. They loved Jason Bateman’s acting and his character’s entire arc. They loved Tina Fey’s character and her struggles. They loved the quotes in this movie.
Now given how I’m writing a “Movie to Watch” segment for “This is Where I Leave You”, I belong to the latter category. I give it 3 stars on 4. To me, this movie is just about as great comedy movies can get with great character driven humor, beautiful quotes, characters giving the audience some amazing life lessons by coming to terms with the truths about themselves.
The movie is set around the Altman family, that is Judd (Jason Bateman), the youngest brother and eternal baby Philip (Hello Kylo Ren), the eldest brother who holds ship, Paul (Corey Stroll. Hey, that’s Yellow Jacket. With Jason Bateman being almost evil in The Gift, we can make like a Suicide Squad right here), Wendy (Tine Fey) and their mother, Hilary (Jane Fonda). Then there are a few other people as well with them, such as Linda(Debra Monk), their neighbour, Lorrie( Timothy Olyphant), Linda’s son who has a brain injury, Penny(Rose Bryne), who used to have a huge crush on Judd back in the day, Annie(Kathryn Hahn), Paul’s wife and they have been trying to conceive for a long time now, Quinn(Abigail Spencer), Judd’s wife who was cheating on him for over a year. These seem to be the most important, for the remaining cast list, hail IMDB or Wikipedia!
The Altman family is united at the start of the movie for their father’s funeral. His last request was that his family sit Shiva. Shiva is a weeklong mourning period in Judaism for first degree relatives, such as father, mother, son, daughter, spouse, brother or sister.
All the Altman kids have their own issues when they reach. I won’t be discussing their issues, that’s for you to enjoy. All the Altman kids haven’t been together for a long time, which they themselves admit that it was going to be a long week.
The center of this movie is Judd. Judd is there in almost all the scenes of the movie. So, most of the advice, the life lessons you’ll be getting through Judd. But that doesn’t mean he’s in every scene. There are various scenes that exclude him, and I think that’s the key. That’s why this movie feels so great.
Since primary focus is on Judd, and his perception of the world and his interaction with the characters. But there are also scenes in the movie where the characters interact with each other, without Judd. The characters here are the Altman family only. This helps in keeping the movie focused while at the same time branching out to bringing depth and a real life feel to all the other characters.
Most of all, the characters act as though actual humans would. Their reactions can at times feel exaggerated, but they don’t feel mechanized or depersonalised. I wouldn’t expect anything less though, given how the screenplay is adapted from a book.
Acting wise as well, the actors brought in a lot of depth to the characters. They feel authentic and very natural. They’re not Oscar level no, but very subtle and very clear with their character’s lives and the direction their characters were dictated in the script. The acting, and even the script never felt inconsistent.
Though in this movie it’s the comic timing and the life lessons that make you stay. Most of the characters you see in the movie have some flaw, some hamartia and we see how they’re not perfect. And the root cause of most of their problems is being unable to express their emotions, especially Judd. Or being confused about the kind of lives they’re leading, or trying their hardest to grow out of their reputation. I think one of the lines in this movie, those who do not want to know about it in advance, please skip to the next paragraph, really takes the point home. “You show me one happy adult. Everybody is sad, or angry, or lying, or cheating.”
It’s moments like these that take your heart away. Because while this movie has its substantial dose of humor, it also has all these little little moments that hit you in the gut. Because you relate so much to them. You go in for the comedy, you love it instead for the quotes. They just feel real. Wisdom-ous practically. I don’t know why, but they do. They make the characters feel human rather than caricatures who just joke around all the time. That’s what differentiates this movie from so many other run of the mill comedy movies. This movie has heart.
I love this movie and all the parts in it. Though at the same time I also understand the criticism thrown towards it. And I defend this movie because a lot of the criticism thrown at the movie makes no sense, such as one memorable one-“It has very pedestrian like results with such great actors”. I’m sorry. But how can only the actors be the sole responsible for a movie? Will the actors make the movie very amazing? Yes, the performance becomes memorable and the movie is elevated, but the performance alone can’t save the movie. Had The Dark Knight been a bad movie, we wouldn’t label it a masterpiece just because Heath Ledger was astoundingly amazing in it. No. And this movie just does very well what it sets out to do and the reason people find the script so, off at times is because we have a certain idea in our mind about how a certain movie should be. How the characters should react, how certain things could pan out better. We view them as how they can be made better, rather than appreciate how they are. This movie is absolutely wonderful if given a chance. And with this, I end this “Movie to Watch” segment. This, is Where I Leave You.
A new blog post and a new Movie to Watch! This is Where I Leave You is a personal favourite I see time and again. It’s a movie worth watching and experiencing once. You may not like it, or you may love it, but either way, you’ll watch another movie you’ll easily be able to talk about! (And also judge my movie watching tastes!)