Christian Movie Reviews - Family Friendly Entertainment

This is Where I Leave You: At the Opening Credits?

<i>This is Where I Leave You</i>: At the Opening Credits?

DVD Release Date: December 16, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: September 19, 2014
Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 103 minutes
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stroll, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer

Poor Judd Altman (Jason Bateman, Bad Words). He woke up one morning as a happily-married man whose well-ordered life had gone exactly as he always planned. By the end of the day... things had gotten complicated. Judd doesn’t "do" complicated. That becomes even more of a problem when the unexpected death of his father lands Judd smack in the middle of his complicated family. To make matters worse, he's stuck in the house with his mother and siblings for seven days while they "sit shiva" (a Jewish ritual of mourning) according to his father's last wishes.

They're a lively family, the Altmans. Mom Hillary (Jane Fonda, Georgia Rule) is the author of a bestselling book on child-rearing that included intimate details of her children's lives as examples. All grown up now, the Altman kids are still dealing with the trauma that caused. Big brother Paul (Corey Stoll, Non-Stop) is the responsible one who stayed home to take care of the family business—a bit like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story. He's married to Annie (Kathryn Hahn, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) who desperately wants a baby. Paul and Judd’s sister Wendy (Tina Fey, Admission) already has children, along with a husband who can’t get off the phone long enough say two words to his young son. Rounding out the family is perpetual baby brother Philip (Adam Driver, What If), a loose cannon who may go off at any moment.

It’s a fabulously talented cast and the relationships between them feel completely authentic. They look right, too. Not one of them is a polished pattern of perfection, as movie characters are apt to be. You’d walk past any of them in the grocery store without a second glance (until they started arguing; then you’d best take cover). Like most families, they bicker constantly but when one of them is threatened they close ranks and stand together. "You guys are idiots," Wendy tells her brothers, "but you're my idiots."

Adding poignancy to the story is Wendy’s first love Horry (Timothy Olyphant, Hitman), a man who suffered debilitating brain damage but managed to hold on to a wry sense of humor. Rose Byrne (Neighbors) bobbles nicely between sad, charming, and just a little crazy as Penny, the girl who didn’t manage to leave her home town behind, and who still carries a torch for Judd.

Even with all these fascinating people on the screen it is Judd’s story most of all. As the complications pile up, Judd must do a lot of soul-searching to decide whether to retreat back into his simple life or take the road less traveled. It’s a gradual journey and an interesting trip to watch.

So what's the downside to this film? It is wildly inappropriate. Everything—and really, I do mean everything—about this movie is based on sex. We overhear a couple having sex, we see couples having sex (complete with naked male backside in action), and when the visuals fail, both the act and the body parts involved are continual topics of conversation. Hillary's impressive new 'bionic' bosom played such a large part in the movie it deserved its own line in the credits. Even the rabbi (Ben Schwartz) has an unfortunate anatomical nickname. A running gag involving a toddler and his portable toilet ensures that "potty humor" is a literal description.

As these films go, This is Where I Leave You is quite well-written; Jonathan Tropper penned both the screenplay and the novel it’s based on. The film is often funny, frequently cringe-inducing (in a kind of good way), and the brutally frank discussions are certainly relevant to the situations the Altmans find themselves in. But the R rating is well-deserved both for the topic and the language used to discuss it. Sensitive viewers beware: you may well laugh but you’ll probably feel guilty about doing so.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Alcohol is consumed on many occasions; a woman says she is “popping Xanax like tic-tacs; several people get high in (it must be said) a truly hilarious scene in the back room of a synagogue; references to growing weed.
  • Language/Profanity: If you can think of an offensive term it is most likely in this movie. The sexual slurs and innuendoes came so thick and fast it was impossible to note them all. The f-bomb, s-word, and b-word, Jesus’ name used as profanity (which seems a little odd, considering the Altmans are Jewish); god-da**; and on and on. One scene included a number of adults using explicit language in front of a group of children.
  • Sex/Nudity: As noted above, sex is pervasive throughout. “Highlights” include a man’s bare rear end shown while he is having sex; a number of cleavage shots; woman overheard telling man to “put your di** in me” and “shove a baby up there”; kissing (male/female and female/female); a woman describes another as being so attractive “I would do her”; and so on.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense: A few fistfights resulting in minor injuries, one involving glass stuck in a man’s head; a man is electrocuted and knocked unconscious; a woman punches a man in the face; a group turns a car upside down resulting in damage.
  • Spiritual: The Altmans are non-practicing Jews; as one of them says “Mom’s not Jewish and dad was a Jewish atheist.” Another says “You guys are so going to hell” then asks “do we believe in hell?” The rabbi is a hipster wannabe who opened his Shabbat service with a strange blend of evangelical preacher and game show host.

Publication date: September 19, 2014