This is Where I Leave You Blu-ray Review
There’s nothing like a death to get the family back together. And that’s just what reunites the Altman clan. And as per their late patriarch’s final request, they’ll all gather to sit shiva (despite his being an atheist).
There are the necessary handshakes and hellos, but they all lack affection. When they take their seats in the house, the siblings don’t take the time to catch up but instead sit in awkward silence. Judd (Jason Bateman, HORRIBLE BOSSES) requests the weeklong mourning period should be shortened to three days, and his brothers and sister agree until their mother, Hillary (Jane Fonda, who received the AFI Life Achievement Award this year), barks that they start acting like a family.
But they’re all a little preoccupied: Judd has just found out his wife (Abigail Spencer, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL) has been cheating on him, Wendy (Tina Fey, MUPPETS MOST WANTED) has a husband who would rather work than tend to her and their son, Paul (Corey Stoll, who played Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) and his wife (Kathryn Hahn, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY) have been having trouble conceiving and Phillip (Adam Driver, HBO’s GIRLS) is the sort of guy who shows up late to his father’s funeral and comments on his mother’s fake breasts.
Each character has their own set of issues and the viewer is expected to care about all of them and hope they pull through. This comes off as a bit unfair, considering the number of characters make the house so cluttered and there’s too much to juggle. Another problem is that their marital woes and family quarrels (from infidelities and workaholics spouses to exchanged fists in the living room and rolling fights on the lawn) are the same old ones that are always brought up in such a movie. There’s just no fresh perspective here.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is directed by Shawn Levy (THE INTERNSHIP, all three installments of the NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM trilogy) and written by Jonathan Tropper, who adapts his own 2009 book. Tropper seems to want to tell a dysfunctional yet warm story of a family coping and growing, but he and Levy hit roadblocks once it’s apparent that there really isn’t much to the characters and, despite their issues, they have very little personality. (It seems Phillip’s ultimate goal in life is to get as far under Paul’s skin without being drowned.)
What actually makes THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU a passable movie, though, is the cast. And with a cast like this (it also includes Rose Byrne as Judd’s former crush, Timothy Olyphant as Wendy’s ex and Dax Shepherd as the shock jock sleeping with Judd’s wife), it would be quite difficult to discard the entire movie. The chemistry here (especially between Bateman and Fey) is strong and the actors are quite enjoyable to watch and hear dish out Tropper’s often clever dialogue.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video has a clean look to it that features fine details and strong colors.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The dialogue is clear and the soundtrack comes through nicely.
Commentary with Shawn Levy and Jonathan Tropper: In between bouts of silence, Levy and Tropper discuss the cast and spout out stories from the production.
A Discussion with Shawn Levy and Jonathan Tropper (4:28): This extension of the commentary has the pair discussing the book, the cast and more.
Points of Departure: Housed here are four featurettes: The Brother-Sister Bond (5:38), The Matriarch (3:59), Sibling Rivals (5:04) and Choreographed Chaos (5:38), all of which look at the relationships and dynamics in the movie.
The Gospel According to Rabbi Boner (6:27): Ben Schwartz and others touch on the inspiration for the character and his role in the story.
Deleted Scenes (13:34): There are six scenes here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole.