There are hidden gems in cinema that you might not know that much about, but rest assured, there’s usually someone out there that can tell you if you’re missing something or if it’s better that you didn’t know about it in the first place. In the case of This is Where I Leave You if you haven’t seen this movie then you’re definitely missing out. On the exterior, it looks like another drama that features a few very noteworthy actors that have been on the rise for a while or who have been well-established and are being given another chance a dramatic ole that some people might enjoy. The fun thing about this movie is that it’s not all drama, though there is plenty of that in the movie to go around. But the comedic moments in this movie are so integrated into the drama that one can’t help but appreciate how everything flows so nicely and how each character is given a chance to act out a bit of the comedy in a subtle to obvious way depending on the scene that’s being played out.
Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Jane Fonda turn in great performances in this movie as the Altman family, a clan that’s not exactly close to one another apart from the personal relationships that the siblings share due to their upbringing. Their mother, Hilary, played by Jane Fonda, isn’t exactly a bad parent, but she practices the idea of allowing her children to express themselves in several ways, and the books that she writes tend to embarrass her children since they tend to be about their life stories. When their father, Mort, dies, Judd is already dealing with the discovery of an affair between his wife Quinn and his box, a radio show host played by Dax Shepard, while Wendy, played by Fey, is dealing with a spouse that doesn’t pay enough attention to her. Paul, the eldest Altman sibling, played by Stoll, and his wife Annie are having trouble with Annie’s apparent inability to get pregnant, while Phillip, played by Adam Driver, is essentially a man-child with an older girlfriend, played by Connie Britton, who gets away with pretty much anything. The siblings are a bit of a mess to be certain, but when put together they begin to reconnect in ways that are absolutely hilarious even as the drama continues to unfold.
Returning to their hometown and their actual home to sit shiva for seven days, as per their father’s request, the Altman siblings rediscover things about themselves that allow them to bond as brothers and sister once again, as there’s even a moment when Paul, Judd, and Phillip get high during a Temple service by hiding out in one of the classrooms within the building. Wendy plays a mother figure to Phillip, who admits that she raised him just as much as their own mother, while Judd, Phillip, and Paul continually argue about who is going to be running the family store now that their father is gone. Through a great deal of personal struggle and drama, as well as a couple of physical altercations, the family is eventually brought closer than they’ve ever been, as the siblings come to understand one another even better and find that they share more similarities than differences.
The funny thing is that the idea to sit shiva wasn’t Mort Altman’s idea, it was their mother’s, and it’s Judd that figures this out since despite not being the most motivated among the siblings he’s definitely the quickest when it comes to figuring things out. This sheds a light on the movie by reaffirming what a lot of people probably came to understand quickly, that the family needed each other even if they didn’t realize it. Their ability to suffer through the week they spend together in order to air everything out, even the fact that Quinn is pregnant and Judd is the father since his boss is apparently sterile. That’s a lot to put on one person in a short period of time, and since Judd is the kind of guy that doesn’t enjoy complications, he was fully ready to shut down and not deal with anything or anyone until his father died.
This is the type of movie that can be watched pretty much any time and be enjoyed, but it’s definitely the type that you might want to watch on a lazy Sunday when there’s nothing else to do and you can just sink into the story without any outside distraction. It’s also the type of family movie that a lot of people can probably relate to, especially if you have more than one sibling and had to grow up with them in the same house. Raise your hand if you’ve had to go through that, yeah, hands up.