HUB Movie Review: This Is Where I Leave You

Story posted December 3, 2014 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

You thought your family was dysfunctional? Oh boy, you’re in for a treat in this weekend’s film, This Is Where I Leave You.

This dramedy follows Judd Altman (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development) from his wonderful life up to the point when he finds out his wife is sleeping with his boss. He ends up growing a beard, and while he’s lost in his heartbroken life, he gets a call that his father has died.

Judd goes back to his home and meets with his family as they mourn together for seven days. His siblings include Paul (Corey Stoll, The Strain) the oldest, not so fun brother; Wendy (Tina Fey, 30 Rock), the chatty Cathy sister with a stressful married life; and Phillip (Adam Driver, Girls) the irresponsible, acts-like-a-child youngest brother. And of course, the very loving mother  (Jane Fonda, The Newsroom) who neither has any shame in talking about her sexual acts with their father, nor that of her children’s embarrassing habits in front of others. 

This is the Altman family.

During these seven days, sanities, relationships and happiness start to crumble, all the while new love is born and the family grows stronger (despite several fights) as a whole. Sure, this all sounds very terrible, but they got some good comedy in there (I mean, Fey and Bateman are in this, how can it not be funny?!).

The movie received generally mixed reviews from top critics and audiences. Metacritic gave it a Metascore of 44, based on their critics. Critics over on gave it a 44%, with 65 percent of its users enjoying the film.  On IMDb, audiences rated it at 6.7, which is quite good for a movie such as this one.

On the Penn State Scale...
1—when Penn State loses a game,
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
3—a canceled 8 a.m class,
4—free books for a year,
and 5—free Creamery for a year,

This Is Where I Leave You is a 3.8. The tag line for the movie, “Welcome Home. Get Uncomfortable,” rings very true in this comedic drama. Some of the subjects, or rather, some of the problems this family experiences, are quite interesting. The dysfunctional-ness of this family, and each individuals’ problems, are just amplified for comedic, and sometimes pitiful effect. They may even make you cringe, thinking “this is just so wrong.” Some of the problems definitely are.

Yet, I do think the amplification is to show effect, or rather make a point, that no matter how flawed a family is, they can work it out.

But what makes this movie on the higher end of a three, almost a four, is that the whole cast makes themselves so incredibly endearing. The cast evoked so well their feelings, troubles and insanity. Despite their pasts, their differences, they come together beautifully, and their mishaps are forgiven and forgotten…for the time being.  

What else impressed me was that the ending was not all sunshine and happiness. Comedies usually are (a la Shakespeare), but this one still left most of the family in a not entirely okay state (but hey, the father just died so they may not be okay just yet anyways, but I digress). The ending was more believable because life is hard and difficult; it comes with bad times and we have to deal with it and pick ourselves up.

Well done.

Sofia Westin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact her, email