This is Where I Leave You is a charming, hilarious, and ultimately heartwarming film with a great deal of emotion and no little laughs. While the film could’ve easily been torn apart by melodrama and poor editing, director Shawn Levy does a great job at bringing a realistic series of relationships into a already funny film.
The main selling point of the film is it’s phenomenal cast, who for the most part do a great job, and more importantly, have great chemistry. Jason Bateman, who has sold himself as a comedy actor after films such as Paul and Horrible Bosses, is particularly good as the film’s lead; he plays a normal, relatable character that still gets to expose the humor within the film’s situations. Also memorable is Adam Driver, who gets the film’s most outwardly comedic character and does an excellent job at playing off the actors. The comfort that the actors show with the material sells there on screen personas and interactions, and makes the film all the more enjoyable.
The remaining cast is also exceptional. Tina Fey and Corey Stoll, who make up the film’s leads along with Bateman and Driver, do a good job with their material, though they are not as memorable as characters. Other cast members, such as Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, and Ben Schwartz are also funny, though they are rightfully secondary to the relationship between the four leads. These characters, as well as many others, are given many hilarious moments, though they aren’t given as much development or depth as the others.
Shawn Levy also does a great job directing the film. There are many long shots and continuous camera movement that sell the film’s realism, both comedically and dramatically. Though the comedy in the film is not situational, the dialogue is constantly hilarious and brings out numerous funny scenes. The tensions between these characters, as well as the distinctive personalities, are what draw out many of the film’s comedic moments, and these relationships evolve as the characters do. The character development is also interesting, as it tends to stay away from many of the clichés common in family bonding films. While there are some predictable moments, the film does have some genuinely surprising moments.
At 103 minutes, This is Where I Leave You is well paced and never becomes a drag. Most scenes are relevant and connect to the story and characters. Instead of pounding the audience with needless exposition, past events are revealed more subtly and are introduced throughout the film’s runtime. The film’s conclusion in particular wraps up very nicely and avoids melodramatic moments. Though there are several subplots, they all are resolved and connect together. In terms of flaws, there aren’t any glaring issues, though the film’s first five to ten minutes are oddly toned and aren’t as smart and interesting as the rest of the film.
Overall, This is Where I Leave You is a hilarious and touching film with several great performances and great direction by Shawn Levy, who creates one of the finest films of his entire career. The comedy and drama are expertly combined and blended to make one of the funnier films this year. It’s a film that everyone can relate to and delivers enough relevance, wit, and charm to become an enthralling and entertaining film. Grade: +B