This is Where I Leave You is a bit uneven where the comedy seemed to work far better than the overindulgent dramatic areas. Jason Bateman and Tina Fey are both great but by far Adam Driver steals the show to the point I kind of wish his character got his own movie, a dark comedy in the vein of Bad Santa perhaps.
This is Where I Leave You
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
Warner | R – 103 min. – $35.99 | December 16, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Family dysfunctional-centric movies aren’t unique but when you get a cast like this together, I had some high expectations for This is Where I Leave You, based on a best-selling novel (that I never read), and while it’s hardly perfect and its flaws, I still mostly enjoyed it because of the aforementioned cast.
Plot Summary: Although it is an ensemble picture, Jason Bateman is more or less the central focal point, playing Judd Altman, a morning radio producer who walks in on his wife (ABIGAIL SPENCER) making love with none other than his boss, schlock radio show host Wade Beaufort (DAX SHEPARD).
Some time passes and living in a crummy apartment, he receives a call from his sister Wendy (TINA FEY) that their father had passed and that, despite not being Jewish or even remotely religious, their mother (JANE FONDA) relays that his final wish was to hold what is called a Shiva, a weeklong mourning period where family receives visitors paying their respect. This will be the first time in a long while that the siblings will be underneath one roof and, in addition to Judd and Wendy, are older brother Paul (COREY STALL) and younger brother Phillip (ADAM DRIVER), along with their respective significant others including Paul’s wife Annie (KATHRYN HAHN) and Phillip’s girlfriend and therapist Tracy (CONNIE BRITTON), as well as Wendy’s husband, Barry (AARON LAZAR).
Along with this group of eclectic characters we are introduced to Penny Moore (ROSE BYRNE), an oddball character who’s had a crush on Judd going way back and Horry Callen (TIMOTHY OLYMPHANT), Wendy’s former boyfriend who is living back at home due to a brain injury he suffered in an accident.
Quick Hit Review: This is Where I Leave You, while not quite hitting the mark in the drama category, with some effective laughs for its comedy bits, does feature some solid performances by its core cast including Jason Bateman (who works well both in drama and comedy), Tina Fey (wish she’d do more movies), Rose Byrne in a small but nice role and Jane Fonda is great as the head of this screwed-up family. But by far, the breakout performance is Adam Driver who is absolutely fun as the family f-up and frankly plays a bit of a dick; however, between this and his smaller supporting role in What If and obviously the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, he’s one to watch and hopefully he gets a chance in a non-Star Wars lead.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover, a standard DVD Copy and a redemption code for the Digital Copy (UltraViolet). For a Warner release, this is a packed set of features which strangely is minimalized on the back cover…
The Narrative Voice: A Commentary with Shawn Levy and Jonathan Tropper is track with Producer/Director Levy and Novelist/Executive Producer/Writer Tropper. This is a fun but still informative track where the duo provide behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
The Narrative Voice: A Discussion with Shawn Levy and Jonathan Tropper is a short on-set interview with the pair discussing adapting the book and translating it to the big screen.
Under Points of Departure, we get a few featurettes: The Brother-Sister Bond (5:38; HD), The Matriarch (3:59; HD), Sibling Rivals (5:04; HD) and Choreographed Chaos (5:38; HD), all of which covers the family dynamic featured in the film and provides on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
The Gospel According to Rabbi Boner (6:27; HD) is a featurette on the side-character and comic relief given his nickname.
Deleted Scenes (13:34; HD) – We get six scenes that were trimmed or cut down. Since no commentary is included, no idea why but like for others, it’s probably due to pacing issues. Even so, they are mostly well acted and worth checking out.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
This is Where I Leave You is presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer (AVC codec) and in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture looks good providing for sharp detail levels and colors tend to be bright. There weren’t any obvious signs of artifacting, pixilation or other flaws making for a nice transfer which isn’t fantastic by any stretch, but impressive nevertheless.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provided isn’t anything exceptional but effective between the clear dialogue levels, choice music/soundtrack and a whimsical/dramatic score which has some decent depth. It won’t blow your socks off but considering it is a drama/comedy, it’s as good as it’ll get…
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, This is Where I Leave You is a bit uneven where the comedy seemed to work far better than the overindulgent dramatic areas. Jason Bateman and Tina Fey are both great but by far Adam Driver steals the show to the point I kind of wish his character got his own movie, a dark comedy in the vein of Bad Santa perhaps. In any case, the Blu-ray released by Warner is surprisingly well packed with bonus material and the video/audio transfers are both good.