Cast adrift, and the plot’s a mess

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU Di­rected by Shawn Levy. Star­ring Ja­son Bate­man, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Con­nie Brit­ton, Ti­mothy Olyphant, Dax Shep­ard, Jane Fonda 15A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 103 min If an au­thor reaches for the world’s lazi­est novel plot – se­crets re­vealed as fam­ily re­unite for fu­neral – then they bet­ter have some way to rein­vent the wheel. Sadly, Jonathan Trop­per’s novel, in which a fam­ily sit Shiva with a sur­viv­ing par­ent, has noth­ing to add to this tired trope.

And now it’s a ter­ri­ble mo­tion pic­ture. One of the year’s poor­est screen­plays re­minds us why au­thors should sel­dom adapt their own books for the big screen.

Night at the Mu­seum di­rec­tor Shawn Levy squan­ders a gag­gle of ca­pa­ble ac­tors in parts that don’t even reg­is­ter a sec­ond di­men­sion. Here comes Adam Driver as Ir­re­spon­si­ble Younger Brother and Corey Stoll as Older Fam­ily Business Run­ner. Meet Tina Fey, the Nur­tur­ing Older

Is Where I Leave You

Sis­ter and her Work Ob­sessed Jerk hus­band.

At the cen­tre of this half-ar­sed drama we find Ja­son Bate­man do­ing dram­edy vari­a­tion No 56 on his Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment shtick. We only know he’s a care­ful chap be­cause he’s played by Ja­son Bate­man and be­cause, like ev­ery­thing else, we’re told as much.

When This Is Where I Leave You isn’t serv­ing up car­toon char­ac­ters and per­func­tory plot points, it’s bom­bard­ing us with hugs and heart-to-heart blather cut to Michael Gi­acchino’s sac­cha­rine score.

No amount of schmaltz can com­pen­sate for tell-don’t-show shal­low­ness. We don’t care about th­ese peo­ple or their wince-mak­ing comic clichés – sex over the baby mon­i­tor, any­one? We don’t be­lieve in a sin­gle melo­dra­matic thing that hap­pens through­out.

There are many trun­ca­tions and a “twist” that a corpse could see com­ing. There are baf­fling mo­ments when the film as­sumes fa­mil­iar­ity with the source novel or con­tents of the au­thor’s head. Bate­man’s void of pro­tag­o­nist strug­gles to re­call a mem­ory of his fa­ther, a quest that is vaguely out­lined, dropped en­tirely, then picked up again ran­domly near the end.

There’s even an id­i­otic run­ning gag about wid­owed mother Jane Fonda’s new breasts: she ought to have spent the money on a new agent.

This is Where I Leave the Cin­ema.

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