This Is Where I Leave You Review (Sky Movies)

Awkward family moments are the bread and butter of this film

Three weeks ago Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) had a good job, a nice apartment and a loving wife.  Now he is unemployed, sleeping on the sofa and is sporting a beard Father Christmas would be proud of.

Following the untimely discovery that his wife is sleeping with his boss, and sudden death of his father, he finds himself back in his childhood home, grounded for seven days while his family sit Shiva. And his family is dysfunctional to say the least.

Mother of the family (Jane Fonda), a sexually liberated psychologist, has used her children’s teenage experiences to fill the pages of her successful self-help books. She also has breast implants which are impossible to ignore.

The rest of the family is made up of reliable older brother (Corey Stoll), protective sister (Tina Fey) and baby of the family (Adam Driver) – who steals the show with an underplayed comedy performance and some cracking one-liners. Along with accompanying partners and kids it’s a full house, and under enforced house arrest, there are only family fist-fights and fortuitously placed baby monitors to lighten the mood.

Back in their small home town it’s not long before old flames spark into life. As Judd neatly surmises, it’s “hard to see people from your past when you’re present is so catechistically screwed up.” But will re-visiting the past be one night sleep-over, or something more enduring?

Penny (Rose Byrne) is still working in the local skate shop, and there’s something more than her Prozac talking when she’s re-united with Judd - her teenage sweetheart. But life has further complications in store. Judd’s cheating wife is in town and she’s got news.

Like his father before him Judd’s instinct is to distance himself from the emotion, but when the chips are down will he keep chasing perfection, or opt for a more complicated but ultimately satisfying life?

The takeout message of the film is to enjoy the moment, and maybe it’s not so bad if that moment is spent lying next to a pretty girl on a twinkling skating rink and Cyndi Lauper playing in the background. “If you fall I will catch you - I'll be waiting – time after time.” It seems the ‘Girl Who Never Left’ is willing to wait.

With an appointment to call in 6 months’ time, Judd drives off in to the sunset in a sexy black sports car, hopefully putting to bed what has been a “profoundly shitty year.”

From the unlikely starting point of a death in the family, and enforced family time together, relationships grow and new bonds are forged. “It’s the circle of life people, the circle of life…”

A nice mixture of black humour, goofy horseplay and well-judged emotion. It made me want to see more of my family – and that’s really saying something…

A poster film for the dysfunctional family.

This Is Where I Leave You is in cinemas from 24 October

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