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This Is Where I Leave You

Year: 2014
Production Co: 21 Laps Entertainment
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Shawn Levy
Producer: Shawn Levy
Writer: Jonathan Tropper
Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, Connie Britton

This film wasn't very well received by either critics or audiences and I can't quite work out why. It was a dramedy with lots of recognisable names, all of them doing what they do best and edging into new territory (Jason Bateman and Tina Fey into drama, Jane Fonda and Corey Stoll into comedy) where the performances, story and set-ups met in the middle.

There were plenty of trailer-worthy gags and enough bittersweet-ness to keep it from being an outright laugh fest, and both aspects felt authentic and at home in the context of the story.

When the father of a clutch of grown children dies, they return home to help their sexually frank mother (Fonda) mourn. Everyone plays to type, the slightly uptight Judd (Bateman) has just split with his wife and is feeling lost, the cute and funny Wendy (Fey) is still pining for the love she lost years before, the nebbish and henpecked Paul (Stoll) is trying and failing to have a baby with his nervy, twitchy wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn) and the black sheep of the family, Phillip (Adam Driver) has never grown up and knows no responsibility.

Their mother insists they sit for the traditional Jewish week of mourning, but all the kids want to do is get away and return to their lives. They connect, reconnect, bristle against each other and fight, the message much the same as in August: Osage County (and cemented by Anna Karenina) about unhappy and/or dysfunctional families and how unhappy people exacerbate their own and everyone else's problems.

Nobody is stretched beyond their abilities, there are enough overt jokes to laugh at and it's as easy to watch and enjoy as it seems it was to make.

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