After returning home early to discover his wife in bed with his boss, Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) sees his marriage, career and happy home disintegrate before his eyes. When his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) then calls to tell him their father has died, Judd comes close to throwing in the towel.
Family can be a blessing and a curse, and Shawn Levy’s bittersweet comedy drama attempts to reconcile both these aspects, as an estranged collection of misfits are forced to live once again under the same roof.
From Jane Fonda’s oversharing mother, who has built a career penning self-help books based on her children’s lives, to older brother Paul, now married to Judd’s ex-girlfriend, and nightmare youngest son Philip (Adam Driver), pin balling from one failed career choice to another failed relationship, the Altman family has more than its fair share of unresolved issues.
Add to the mix childhood sweethearts who now re-enter Judd and Wendy’s lives, and the stage is set for procession of funny, touching, tearful and cathartic moments that may help reshape the rest of their lives.
Jonathan Tropper’s adaptation of his own novel is more mature fare than much of Levy’s past work, but his re-teaming with Date Night star Fey proves a welcome one. Bateman and Fey reveal themselves to be as equally adept at drama as they are at making us laugh, and the strong support from the big name ensemble ensures This Is Where I Leave You touches the heart as often as it tickles the funny bone.
This review first appeared in Cathay Pacific’s Discovery Magazine, January 2015