MOVIE REVIEW: “This Is Where I Leave You” is a sweet family reunion

I guess you can call it “August: Osage County” dipped in sugar, but that actually made me want to see “This Is Where I Leave You” even more. The concept of a movie with a HUGE ensemble cast and chaotic hilarity sounds perfect, right? Well, maybe not perfect, but really good in this case. “This Is Where I Leave You” doesn’t go anywhere new or original, but it takes what it has with the storyline and elevates it to 11 with the sheer amount of acting going on. While “August: Osage County” went for the dark side of death and family, “This Is Where I Leave You” focuses far more on the humorous aspects and creates not only a funny movie, but a very touching one at that.

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver are all Altman family siblings brought together on the occasion of their father’s death to sit shiva, the jewish tradition of immediate family of the deceased staying in one home for seven days, to grieve and receive visitors. Alongside the siblings sits their mother, played by Jane Fonda, a true maverick of the acting community and it makes me so happy to see her acting in something mainstream again. As expected, everyone in this movie is great, it’s admirable to see each actor go outside of the normal roles they play in movies to settle into something we haven’t seen from these actors before. Nothing was as soul-shatteringly effective as Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County”, but I really admired breaking out of the box for the story.

Director Shawn Levy makes his first R-rated debut with this film, which really gives him room to breathe. After establishing his name with the “Night at The Museum” movies, he slumped with his more recent film “The Internship”, which felt constrained and censored almost to attract teenagers. “This Is Where I Leave You” feels much more free than his previous work, which is incredibly nice to see. Though I can’t necessarily commend the directing style, as it mimicked his previous work, it certainly fit the criteria of his style more with this film.

I want to write more about this movie, but I honestly can’t write much more than what I have here, which feels bare bones, simply because the movie is simply an exercise in acting, and the perks of ensemble casts. The screenplay is very funny, albeit not too clever, and while some of the story treads into very pedestrian categories, the way it’s handled by it’s actors are fantastic. I can’t stop comparing this movie to “August: Osage County” simply because of how similar it is in base structure, but in reality, these two films couldn’t be more different; one a dark, clever piece about death and addiction, and the other about finding humor, love and forgiveness in death. I could almost consider “This Is Where I Leave You”, the “August: Osage County” for the masses, minus about 50% of the ingenious writing.

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3.5/5

Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Jane Fonda.
Runtime: 103 minutes
Rated: R for language, sexual content and some drug use.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, a Spring Creek production, a 21 Laps production, a Shawn Levy film, “This Is Where I Leave You”

Read more here: http://nineronline.com/2014/10/movie-review-this-is-where-i-leave-you-is-a-sweet-family-reunion/
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