Director Shawn Levy’s This is Where I Leave You is a schmalzty comedy drama. An entertaining watch, the film nevertheless lays it on thick with the emotion.
After his father passes away, Judd Altman and his three adult siblings are forced to return to their childhood home for a week. In this time, they are forced to confront the state of their relationships, as well as dealing with their over-sharing mother…
Based on Jonathan Tropper’s novel, with the author also writing the screenplay, This is Where I Leave You features on the sentimental end of comedy dramas. Humour punctuates throughout the film, although the emphasis is on drama. Levy’s film is frequently heavy with emotion, although some of these moments are broken with laughs.
This is Where I Leave You’s comedy often relies on the uttering the inappropriate. The film balances to an extent on the non-normative relationship between the four siblings and their mother, who does not behave in the traditional maternal role at times. There is certainly humour to be found in this set up, although this does not balance out the more sentimental aspects of the film.
The family dynamic works well for the most part. The siblings are drawn with distinction, and the relationships between family members seem realistic. Whilst the varying degrees of relationship is fine, some of the situations in This is Where I Leave You feel contrived. The dialogue is heavy on sentiment, some conversations appear desperate for an emotional reaction as a result. Other interactions seem more natural, and meaningful.
Performances in the film are good overall. Jane Fonda appears to be having fun, whilst Jason Bateman does his usual straight man to others’ more outlandish personalities. The film’s score suggests a striving for pensive emotion.
Whilst a sharper pace and less unambiguous peddling for reaction would have been welcome, This is Where I Leave You is still entertaining viewing.