On Saturday night my husband and I went to see “This is Where I Leave You.”
Although she is very much just playing the mom role the main reason I saw this movie was Jane Fonda.
I think she is one of the greatest actresses of the second half of the twentieth century and I believe the films suffered as result of her hiatus from them during the fifteen years she took wasn’t acting. At this point she is closing in on being eighty years old and I want to make sure I see all of her screen work before she dies. As much as I love Jane there are several other members of the cast that would have made the movie worth seeing for me like Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Rose Byrne.
I love films about family drama and dysfunction. I think that family dramas are my favorite genre of films and books. I enjoyed “This is Where I Leave You” and I’m glad I saw it but having seeing the superior and similarly themed “The Skeleton Twins” the week before I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. I think there are two big differences between “This is Where I Leave You” and “The Skeleton Twins”. In “The Skeleton Twins” the chemistry between Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader was so fantastic that you felt that they really could be siblings. Meanwhile in “This is Where I Leave You” you get the sense that Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver are all just a bunch of actors who were cast to play siblings.
“The Skeleton Twins” has a great heart to drive the story forward which I think is a result of the film being independently made.
On the other hand “This is Where I Leave You” is very much a studio movie which means is much more formulaic, good but predictable.
That isn’t to say that “This is Where I Leave You” is a bad movie, it’s a solid movie, it’s just not amazing.
What makes a formulaic movie special are the actors and the performances.
As I mentioned the number one reason I wanted to see this movie was Jane Fonda. She is good, as she always is. There is an interesting moment at the end of the movie involving her character that I didn’t totally buy but I still appreciated it in theory.
Jason Bateman is good and does an excellent job of walking the line between comedy and drama.
I appreciate that Tina Fey is playing a much more dramatic role than we are used to seeing her in and I applaud her for stretching. She just isn’t as good at drama as she is at comedy (Not to keep going back to “The Skeleton Twins” but this is something that Kristin Wiig is VERY good at). Corey Stoll is good but he isn’t given all that much to work with. Rose Bryne is also good. I’m not a big fan of Dax Shepard so his performance didn’t really do anything for me one way or another. There was a lot of buzz around Adam Driver’s performance and I’m not sure why. He plays the obnoxious baby of the family. Maybe some people find that endearing but I found it annoying.
Again, “This is Where I Leave You” isn’t a bad movie; it just isn’t a great movie. I did really like where Jason Bateman’s character ends the movie emotionally though. Unless you LOVE the actors involved wait to see it on DVD and rush out and see “The Skeleton Twins” instead.
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