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“This is Where I” leaves you sighing

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“This is Where I” leaves you sighing

The TV-funny cast of “This is Where I Leave You”

The TV-funny cast of “This is Where I Leave You”

Warner Brothers

The TV-funny cast of “This is Where I Leave You”

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

The TV-funny cast of “This is Where I Leave You”

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They are unfiltered; they are dysfunctional; they are repressed; they are going to rip each other’s heads off. They are the Altmans, the centerpiece of “This is Where I Leave You.”

The family is made up of Judd (Jason Bateman), who is recently separated from his cheating wife, jobless, and growing a fat, depressed beard, his feisty mother (Jane Fonda), who possesses a psychiatric degree and huge boob implants, his older brother Paul (Corey Stoll) who is struggling to put a baby in his wife, his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) who lost true love years prior when her boyfriend suffered brain injuries, and his younger brother Phillip (Adam Driver), who brings home his ex-therapist girlfriend who happens to be two decades his elder.

The family must sit shiva in honor of their patriarch who recently entered into the next life. The Jewish ritual requires the mourning family to spend seven days under one roof, receiving visitors and remembering the deceased.
It was the TV-funny cast that inspired me to buy a ticket. I wanted to see Fey and Bateman on the big screen; I am a huge fan of “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development.”

The best scenes of the film were the scuffles, struggles and embraces between the Altmans. The term “baggage” falls short of what everybody brings to the funeral/reunion; siblings propel each other to be more honest and accepting. At the center is “play-it-safe” Judd, who must be propelled to let go of a “perfect life” notion and dare to do something messy and complicated, like date or love ever again.

The film feels appropriately claustrophobic under the Altman roof. The family is in a constant shouting match, or engaged in embarrassing conversation. Their mother has no problem telling their kids how hung their father was, and certain siblings have no problem cranking up the volume when Paul and his wife are caught doing it via baby monitor.
The film tries to tackle the serious as well. Wendy’s demons are inescapable, as her ex-boyfriend lives across from her childhood home. Although he has lost much due to injury, he still understands that he isn’t the man she fell in love with. This relationship offers a unique portrait of love and loss.

Unfortunately, this portrait, as others, seem to be rushed and unfinished. Much of the action outside of the Altman skirmishes is difficult to accept. I felt like I was watching a television show; the dialogue and quick-to-learn life lessons conflicted with my big-screen expectations. Strange, since the director, Shawn Levy, specializes in big-screen action: his repetroire includes “Big Fat Liar,” “Just Married,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “The Pink Panther” and “A Night at the Museum.”

The writer, Jonathan Tropper, teaches English at Manhattanville College. Perhaps he should quit. On multiple occasions, out of pure cheesiness, I sighed, “Oh my god.”

My laughs were plenty, and despite the cheesiness, it was great to see the amazing Fey and the altruistic Bateman play siblings.
All the same, I would recommend waiting until the flick comes out on disc before watching.

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About the Writer
Travis LeClair, Staff Reporter

Travis LeClair joined the Basement Medicine staff in Spring 2014, assuming the position of staff reporter.

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“This is Where I” leaves you sighing