“It's hard to see people from your past when your present is so cataclysmically screwed up.”
No matter “put together”, “good” or “nice” your family may be they are screwed up in some odd way. My family is a bunch of nutcases. My parents are still together and have been for thirty-three years. There is me and three younger brothers. We all care deeply for one another. We’re always there for each other. For some reason everyone loves my family. We are good people but my goodness if they lived with us! They would most likely have us all committed! We also, as individuals, have a lot of issues. I suffer from ADHD, depression and anxiety which was nicely passed down by my father who has the same issues. My one brother is an unholy mess and he just makes problems bigger than they are. We are dysfunctional but we all make do with each other.
Watching This is Where I Leave You made me think of the relationships I have with each of my brothers. We are not as dysfunctional as the Altman family in the room. At least we know how to be somewhat civil to each other and we would never go months not seeing each other. Their relationships with each other I found to be endearing and at times very relatable.
The story centers around Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) the second brother in a family of four. Judd thought he had a good life working as a radio producer with a beautiful faithful wife. He comes home from work one day to find his wife and his radio personality boss in bed together. A few months later Judd is still unemployed and is now living in a small apartment. He gets a call from his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) that their father has died. Judd heads back home for the funeral. His mother (Jane Fonda) tells them all that one of their father’s last wishes was that they would all sit Shiva for him so they could be a family again. None of the Altman children are very happy especially since they have not been in the same room together in a long time and now they have to be together for seven days.
The story is not completely new because over the course of the seven days the family finds things out about each other, all their good and bad qualities come out, all their issues are brought out into the open, there are scenes where they have a good time together and also confide in one another. Judd even manages to find a nice girl from his childhood and is stunned to find she never left their small town.
Very typical story but what sets it apart from others is the acting and there are actually some surprises. So much praise goes to Tina Fey. The woman really does have a range. She was perfect as Wendy. The characters Fey plays usually have to hold their own and because of this she is sarcastic and sometimes bitter. That is exactly what Wendy was only she had to hold her own because she has three brothers and a few other things in her life made her bitter. I know perfectly well what it is like to have to hold your own with three brothers and it is not easy. Fey had some of the best scenes in the movie. All her scenes with Jason Bateman were fantastic. Bateman is such a good actor. I do not think he gets enough credit. Judd is character that shows up in movies and stories all the time but Bateman added something different to Judd. I am not sure what it was but what he did add made the character different and actually enjoyable. Rose Byrne plays the girl who stayed in their hometown. Byrne could act out the alphabet and she would be genius. She has such great range as an actress. She is pretty yet she can play the perfect dorky, odd character like the girl in this movie was or he can be awesome and fierce like her character in Damages. Kathryn Hahn is in the movie as Judd’s sister-in-law. Love all her performances too. Like Bateman and even like Byrne, Hahn is not given enough credit for how good an actress she is. Jane Fonda was bearable. Her character is actually one of the most surprising scenes in the whole movie and it is funny and like what the hell just happened. Corey Stoll and Adam Driver round out the Altman children. Cory Stoll played the older brother so he was like the authority figure in the family with the dad gone (he will always be Ernset Hemmingway to me and I will forever want to hear him say “Who wants to fight” no matter what he is in). He, Driver, and Bateman have a great scene together. Driver I am not really fond of. I cannot pin point what it is about him that I do not like. His character was a bit of an ass but that was not really it.
My favorite line in this movie is when Wendy picks up Judd from the hospital. His ex-boss showed up there too (for reasons I cannot give away). Judd was going to walk away but Wendy decided to punch the guy out. When she gets in the car she tells Judd and Phillip (Driver) “You guys may be idiots but you’re my idiots.” I cannot even tell you how this has become a my mantra for my brothers ha ha.
This is Where I Leave You was a great movie. From beginning to end I enjoyed it. I liked all the characters and the acting was fantastic. The story could be a bit predictable but then there are a few curves and surprises. The ending was I thought was very good. If you get a chance definitely see This is Where I Leave You especially if you come from a family with a few kids like me.