Thursday, September 25, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

The last time that I went an entire month without going to the movie theater was probably sometime in 2010, before I was even blogging. That said, I could not wait to get to the theater! Honestly, I would have paid to watch Liam Neeson have one of his dramatic phone conversations. But, thankfully, I didn't have to, all because of This Is Where I Leave You. If you know my taste in movies, you know that I love a good dramedy, and this film was sure to become the new definition of dramedy. Featuring an awesome cast and a promising storyline, I had very high hopes for This Is Where I Leave You, regardless of its low score on the Tomatometer.

This story has been done before. Dan in Real Life and The Family Stone are both great examples of almost identical stories that have been done in the past ten years or so. Considering how lacking I am in creativity, let's call this type of film "The Big Chill: Family Edition." And, for those of you who harp on the fact that originality is lacking, be sure to check yourself before you go watch Captain America 37 in 2019. As much as the film was lacking in originality, it made up for it by being a dramatic comedy, which is basically an easy sell to Tanner Jones. Do I like all dramedies?... No. But, the odds are ever in their favor! My judgement on this type of film is partial, but I absolutely love them. Add my love for the genre to a great cast, and you can guess the outcome...

With such a large cast, I will not have time to pick apart each and every character, but I will say that I was pleased with the cast, for the most part. Typically, when dealing with such a large cast, there are at least one or two blatantly poor characters, but This Is Where I Leave You was able to avoid such fate.

I'm not sure if the performance or the direction is to blame, but Rose Byrne's Penny Moore was one of the most inconsistent characters that I have ever seen. She was peppy at times. She was serious at times. She was ditsy at times. She was logical at times. Unfortunately, she was so inconsistent! It just frustrated the crap out of me, because I wanted to like her character. Connie Britton's Tracy Sullivan was much more consistent, but I didn't like her presence in the film. In my opinion, she was completely unnecessary. And, to complete my destruction of the poor women of this film, Tina Fey's Wendy was the least interesting sibling of the Altman crew, which really disappointed me. Fey's humor usually works for me, but I just didn't connect.

After hating on most of the female cast, I shall now take a moment to praise the lovely Jane Fonda, whose role as mother of the house, Hillary Altman, was the first hilarious female performance that I have witnessed all year long. In my opinion, her character was not only one of the funniest of the film but easily the most interesting. The absolute funniest character was Phillip Altman, played brilliantly by the always hilarious Adam Driver. Last year, I was introduced to Driver in both Frances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis, and I do believe that he has an extremely bright future ahead of him, in either drama or comedy. While Driver and Fonda were able to steal the show, I must show some love for Jason Bateman, who was quite perfect for the role of Judd Altman. As I've said before, Bateman is not the funniest man in the world, but he does a great job of picking roles that fit his one dimensional humor.

With a great cast and a storyline that I could watch 1,000 times, This Is Where I Leave You was pleasantly enjoyable. After my long movie drought, it was good to come back to my happy place and discover the fun that was waiting for me. Oscar season is fast-approaching, and I can't wait to continually write about (hopefully) great films! The fun part about being so well-versed in the film world is being able to recognize films that I will love and hate. Sometimes my thoughts and predictions hit the nail on the head, which was the case with This Is Where I Leave You. If you like films like The Big Chill, Dan in Real Life, or The Family Stone, this film is just for you! I give This Is Where I Leave You 3.23 out of 5 stars.

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