This Is Where I Leave You

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 16, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

There's a lot of talent on display in Shawn Levy's funny, poignant, but often too paint-by-numbers pic, "This is Where I Leave You," in particular, two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, who continues to prove she can take the most underwritten part and infuse it with great nuance, gravitas and layers of subtext.

Fonda is the matriarch of an uber-dysfunctional family that is forced together when their father dies. Dad's last wish is to have his loved ones sit Shiva, even though he was an atheist. The estranged siblings include Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and scene-stealer, Adam Driver. Bateman is brooding because he caught his wife cheating with his shock-radio boss. Fey is married to a self-admitted asshole and still pines for brain-damaged, but sexyhot, Timothy Olyphant. Stoll is desperately trying to have a child with his wife, Kathryn Hahn. And Driver is in a relationship with therapist Connie Britton, who bears a striking resemblance to his mother. Toss in the continuously fascinating Rose Byrne as an old flame and Debra Monk as a new flame, and you have a dynamite cast imbuing the film with great depth and feeling.

Jonathan Tropper adapted his own novel and cannot seem to get past the glib and facile. In that respect, the film reminded me of Robert Harling's sequel to "Terms of Endearment," "The Evening Star," a movie heavy on the one-liners but light on character development.

Still, there are many joys here and the Blu-ray presentation is a good one. The disc boasts a host of fun extras include commentaries and discussions with Levy and Tropper, a bunch of short but delightful features and 13-minutes of deleted and extended scenes.

"This is Where I Leave You" makes for a terrific film for the holidays--a time when blood bonds are forced on people whether they like it or not.

"This is Where I Leave You" makes for a terrific film for the holidays -- a time when blood bonds are forced on people whether they like it or not. And while it may not be the cleverest of movies, it deserves a healthy afterlife on Blu-ray, DVD and home theatre platforms-if only to watch the divinely gifted Jane Fonda inspire her fellow actors to rise to her level.

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Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute