movie review: “This is Where I Leave You”

This_Is_Where_I_Leave_You_poster

There wasn’t much at the theater we wanted to see for Date Night. I had seen the previews for “This is Where I Leave You” weeks if not months before, so was surprised it was still in a theater. It was my pick, Brian was luke-warm on all of them, so it won.

And thank goodness it did. How can you go wrong with Jason Bateman and Tina Fey? His affiliation with Arrested Development made me a fan for life, and her hilarity on SNL: “I can see Russia from my house!” Though I haven’t seen Jane Fonda in anything in… decades? she pleasantly surprised and impressed. Brian and I also liked Dax Shepard’s character. I only saw a couple seasons of him on TV’s “Parenthood,” and didn’t care for his wishy-washy role. But in the movie he perfectly portrayed a loud-mouthed, egotistical a-hole radio personality. So funny.

I dig screwy family dynamics movies. Do you remember “Home for the Holidays” from the 90’s, directed by Jodie Foster with Robert Downy Jr. and Holly Hunter? If done well those movies can make you laugh along and realize your own life isn’t so messed up. Be it that I’m a chick, sensitive soul, or naive movie consumer, I definitely eat up a happy ending. And whether laughing out loud or bawling my eyes out, which may not be so different from each other after all, it’s good to let loose. Doesn’t take much.

I knew from the previews it was about the loss of the family patriarch, and his estranged grown kids having to spend days with each other after the funeral. I don’t know if it’s morbid curiosity that draws me to grief and loss films now, or perhaps because we want to see ourselves in shows we watch and books we read. Maybe because I’m curious to see what THEY do, and how THEY react after a death. Or if Hollywood will get it right… or irritatingly wrong. I remember more right than wrong. Some scenes were irreverently, uncomfortably, funny. Sometimes no one knew quite what to do. At times it was awkward. Check, check, check.

One of my favorite parts was Bateman and Fey’s brother/sister bond. I feel that kind of connection with my brother. I can see us climbing out our bedroom windows onto a rooftop, sharing an adult beverage, and sorting out life. Their connection was really cool and watching it, I wanted my brother to see it. Rent it, Andy!

The more I write the more I remember. That’s how writing goes!  More nuggets:

  • The youngest brother couldn’t shake his “screw-up” role, but spoke from his heart and always said Just The Right Thing
  • My Brian, who sadly lost his dad about 15 years ago, was touched by the scene where Bateman remembered his dad helping him ride a bike. I’m tearing up here at Starbucks. Pretty sure they think I’m crazy here by now.
This movie has everything: grief and loss (remember, I’m crazy), plenty of irreverent humor, and messy but loving relationships. I give it eight out of ten flannels.

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