This Is Where I Leave You Review
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Once again, the holidays are right around the corner. In the next few months, many of us will be spending a whole lot of time with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and other crazy family members. But the family dysfunction that you might be facing most likely pales in comparison to that of the grieving family in director Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You.

This wild family dramedy stars Jason Bateman as Judd Altman, a successful radio producer who seems to have the perfect life. But it all begins to crumble when he discovers that his wife has been having an affair with his boss. After losing his job, his marriage, and his gorgeous apartment, it seems as though things can’t get much worse—until his dad dies.

Judd travels back home to Indiana for the funeral, planning to keep his marital problems under wraps during his short visit. But he soon finds that his Jewish-atheist father has requested that the family sit Shiva, forcing Judd, his three eccentric siblings, and their outspoken mother—along with their spouses, kids, and a few random others—to stay under the same roof for an entire week.

Each member of the Altman family has his or her own issues, whether they’re struggling to start a family, pining for lost love, or fighting to be taken seriously. And the film (based on the novel by Jonathan Tropper) does a good job of handling the imperfections of life—and the challenges of being a family. Secrets and lies and suspicions abound as these four grown siblings and their straight-talking mother are forced to spend the week together, surrounded by well-meaning friends and relatives—and a few old flames, too. It doesn’t take long for the cracks to start showing—or for the characters to start giving in to their temptations and frustrations.

It isn’t easy to give a story like this one the right tone, mixing the drama and the comedy in the right amounts. But Levy strikes a comfortable balance, giving the story both heartfelt drama and laugh-out-loud comedy, rarely going too far in either direction. Bateman handles both the heart and the humor remarkably well, while supporting characters offer their own personal touches.

The greatest problem, then, is that it tries to do too much. There are simply too many characters with too many issues—which means that none of the characters get the development that they deserve. And if the family had been a little smaller—or their problems had been fewer—the film may have been stronger and more memorable.

It may not be an award-worthy drama (and it may not be as extreme as last year’s August: Osage County), but This Is Where I Leave You is still an entertaining study in family dysfunction. It’s another one of those films that will make you feel just a little bit better about your own family.

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