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 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.