HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: This Is Where I Leave You
HTS Overall Score:84
It seems to be the time for films about dysfunctional families. First “The Skeleton Twins” and now “This Is Where I Leave You” in a one-two knockout. Both films are excellent (with a slight edge to “This Is Where I Leave You), but each one has a COMPLETELY different take and feel on the issue of family dysfunction. With “Skeleton Twins” we had a drama that was bleak and harshly accurate, but with this tale we have a story that decides to carry a much lighter tone and still has plenty of drama to go around. I don’t what is about dysfunctional families, but we eat them up like its candy. We’ve got “The Simpsons”, “Married with Children”, pretty much every sitcom every invented, the list goes on. For some reason seeing that dysfunction is something we can chuckle about and relate to, because there is always something dysfunctional in our own families. In a way that’s how we really function (try making sense of that infinite loop right there).
“This Is Where I Leave You” is told through the eyes of the youngest Altman brother, Judd (Jason Bateman), and the movie starts off with his life crashing to ruin when he walks in on his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) sleeping with his boss, Wade (Dax Sheppard). Moving out, starting the divorce process and living in a crummy apartment all turns even further south when he gets a call from his sister, Wendy (Tina Fey), telling him that his dad has just died and that his final wish was for the family to get together and spend the week of Shiva together. So down to the old family house comes Judd, Wendy, Phillip (Adam Driver), his girlfriend/therapist Tracy (Connie Britton), and Paul (Corey Stoll) ready to spend a week of squirming uncomfortableness as they bond and grieve over their father’s death.
Every one of the 4 children have a TON of baggage to the party. Phillip is the youngest and pretty much has never grown up. He spends his time with sports cars and sleeping around while pretty much forgoing all responsibility. Wendy is living in a loveless marriage with her husband and struggles to maintain her life after she left her childhood sweetheart, Horry (Timothy Olyphant), Paul and his wife are under ENORMOUS pressure as they have tried and tried and tried and failed each time at having a child. Judd is of course dealing with his ex, only to find out during the middle of Shiva week that she is pregnant with his child. As you can guess this entire pot of dysfunction is prime for someone to stir, and a million spoons dip in to start that pot a swirling.
I’m not going to say much more about the plot, since this is the type of movie that is better left to unfold on its own, naturally and organically as anything else I would say will spoil the domino chain of events that has been unleashed. What I can say is just how fantastic the movie is put together. Shawn Levy usually does a slapstick comedy, but “This Is Where I Leave You” leans more towards the dramedy, but a VERY healthy dose of humor is definitely the main stay here. The characters aren’t always exactly REALISTIC in the way things are handled, as reality can be even harsher than what’s on screen, but the blending of such an all-star cast is what makes the movie great. Each person OWNS their respective character and each one interlocks with the other so seamlessly that it creates this feeling of perfection. The decisions they make may not always be the right ones, the moral ones, or even the healthy ones, but they each make their own beds and have to learn to lie in what they created, for better or for worse.
This whole explosive environment is the perfect place for an explosion of epic proportions and plenty of explosions go off in the movie. With that in mind, it’s fascinating to watch this family bond together over their own differences and flaws. Some say blood is thicker than water, and this movie does a wonderful job at showing that even in bad times and times where everyone is a mess, a family sticks together. Some people leave happy, some people leave broken, and some people are just surviving, but family loves them no matter what.
I missed this one in the theater, but was very eager to check it out once it came to home video and I’m really glad I did. This is a star studded cast and one that blends together like cream and sugar. I’ve always liked Jason Bateman and every year that he’s in the acting business I end up being more and more impressed. Adam Driver is an up and comer, and recently starred in the indie Rom-Com “What If” with Daniel Radcliffe, and we even have an appearance by Timothy Olyphant as the brain damaged ex-boyfriend of Tina Fey. He’s doesn’t play an enormous role, but every time he opens his mouth he just steals the scene, plain and simple.
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35121[/img]Much like “The Skeleton Twins”, director Shawn Levy decided to shoot not in your typical 1.85:1 full screen ratio usually chosen for comedies and dramas, but opts for the wider 2.40:1 scope aspect ratio to shoot his film in. After watching it a couple times I have to say that I really like the wider scope aspect ratio, as it allows for a wider feel to the movie, utilizing the horizontal space to fit in the enormous all-star cast in one frame. Detail is simply stunning throughout the film, with lots and lots of fine detail in every scene. Jason Bateman’s beard is shown in perfect detail as it fills out over the course of the week and the light sparkles and dances over the skin of Phillip’s immaculate Porsche. Colors are rich and vibrant, well saturated and full of life. The movie is mainly shot is really bright environments, but there are a few scenes that make great use of the black levels, usually in the basement where Judd is staying over the week. Overall it’s a fantastic looking image that has nothing to be ashamed over. Great transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35129[/img]The 5.1 lossless track is about what you would expect too. Much like “The Skeleton Twins” it has a nice dialogue centric track that makes really good use of those front channels. The film is LOADED with dialogue and many times dialogue that features multiple people yelling over each other at once and I never felt the need to adjust the volume dial. Blending seamlessly in with the surrounds the film produces some great directionality as you can hear a slamming door over your shoulder, or feel the throbbing power of a sports car roar to life on the city streets. The LFE was actually really impressive, coming in at moments I wouldn’t have expect for a dramedy sound track. It’s a very pleasing track that does the job its required to do without batting an eye and will leave the viewer very satisfied.
• Points of departure
• The Gospel according to Rabbi Boner
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• The Narrative Voice: A commentary with Shawn Levy & Jonathan Tropper
• The Narrative Voice: A discussion with Shawn Levy & Jonathan Tropper
Based on the Novel carrying the same name, “This Is Where I Leave You” is a wonderful film and even though I don’t agree with all the action that the character made, I have to say it is incredibly well put together and extremely entertaining. Dramedy’s are always hit or miss, but when you have the right people working together you get a very well done final product. The Blu-ray vitals are all strong and the extras actually have some real meat to them. The commentary with Jonathon Tropper is well worth the price of admission alone and I heartily recommend it for a watch. Especially if you’re a fan of dysfunctional comedies.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Timothy Olyphant, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Dax Sheppard
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Written By: Jonathan Tropper
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Own “This is Where I Leave You” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and Digital HD on December 16th
Buy This Is Where I Leave You Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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