This Is Where I Leave You…Scratching.

It’s usually not a very good sign when my brothers and I come out of a movie and we don’t talk. We have nothing to say, no opinion to give. It was like we watched the Discovery Channel where things are not meant for you to react to because nature is just nature.


I think that’s what “This Is Where I Leave You” was. It was an honest and kind of accurate portrayal of life and the relationships we build around it. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just life.

The story revolves around the Altman family. Siblings Judd (Jason Bateman), Paul (Corey Stoll), Wendy (Tina Fey) and Phillip (Adam Driver) come back to their childhood home after their Father passes. Their mother, Hillary (Jane Fonda), tells them that their Father’s dying wish was for them to practice Shiva, a Jewish ritual of 7-day mourning. Reluctantly, they all stay and live under one roof for a week. What ensues is a week of altercations, complications, revelations, and reconciliations.


Judd recently found out his wife was sleeping with his boss (Dax Shepard). It gets even more confusing for him when he runs into a childhood sweetheart, Penny (Rose Bryne), at their home town. The eldest, Paul, struggles to keep the family business afloat while his wife, Annie (Kathryn Hahn), is desperately trying (and failing) to conceive a child with him. Wendy arrived with her inattentive husband, and starts to question her decision to leave their neighbor and her ex-boyfriend, Horry (Timothy Olyphant). Phillip, the black sheep of the family, with all his charm and enthusiasm, never does anything with his life of worth. During their week of being crammed together, they all inadvertently start dealing with their personal baggage with the help from the only people who TRULY know how to, their family.

Even when all their lives are hilariously super screwed up, somehow you know their problems would eventually resolve themselves. This is thanks, in part, to the cast’s great chemistry. Stoll and Driver even actually LOOK like brothers. This chemistry helped generate some very touching moments when it was called for.

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These two actually LOOK like brothers.

I love Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, and while both of them had their moments as well, the real stand out here was Adam Driver. Of all the scenes between siblings, scenes with him in it felt the most genuine, may it be while he’s goofing around, or preaching his own brand of wisdom. It’s almost poetic that the black sheep would sound the wisest of the siblings and Adam Driver’s performance and natural aura was perfect for that very earnest part. No small feat, considering he was around much more established actors.

Up and comer, Adam Driver.

But sadly, even though the movie did have its moments, it never lives up to its potential. You feel something brewing, like you could tear up at any time now, but alas, it never amounts to anything. The movie, I felt, ended at a very low and cold note. TIWILY never pushes the envelope; never dares to venture out of this safe zone, and hence becomes uninteresting. Considering the incredible amount of talent collected for this flick (and there was A LOT), I couldn’t help but feel that these actors could do so much more but are never allowed to. It’s a dramedy, with just a little bit of drama and a little bit of comedy.

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This Is Where I Leave You's stellar cast.

But like I said, maybe that was the point? That it’s not a movie about finding solutions, romantic relationships, happy endings or even familial bonds. Maybe it was just a candid and meditative depiction of a week in the life for 4 grown, dysfunctional, siblings, at different parts of their lives, trying the best to move forward despite their blundering through life.

Would have wanted just a little bit more from these guys...

Ultimately, this movie could have been a lot better. The effort was there though. The somber music, the well-acted scenes by a stellar cast, were all there to pull on your heartstrings, but unfortunately, the payoff wasn’t nearly enough to justify whatever build up was made. It’s like waiting in line for a restaurant for 2 hours, knowing they had the best chefs, and then finding out their food was just okay. But we didn’t go out to eat normal food, did we? We expected to be amazed! And just like this movie, there was a lot of talent, a lot of promise, but unfortunately, a lot of wasted potential.


*First seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles!

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