By William Wolf

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2014--THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU  Send This Review to a Friend

Although a mess of a family drama and comedy, “This is Where I Leave You,” shown at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), churns quite a bit of laughter along its rocky road.

The premise is funny to start with. When the father of the screwed up family dies, his widow, Hilary Altman, exuberantly played by Jane Fonda, tells their offspring that their father left a dying wish that all assemble at home to follow the Jewish practice of “sitting shiva” during a mourning period. The instruction came even though daddy was an atheist. It is Hilary’s way of getting the gang together again.

In the process, we get to meet the various family members, their significant others and friends from school days, with old resentments and loves played out, new complications that arise and one surprising revelation about mom and a female friend. It’s all a bit much. The film was directed by Shawn Levy and written by Jonathan Tropper based on his novel.

What the romp has going for it is a good cast, which, apart from Fonda, includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Debra Monk and appealing others. The set-ups often smack of sitcoms, but every now and again one can laugh aloud, as when thumping lovemaking is heard over an intercom. There is also occasionally expert delivery of the funnier lines.

But so much has been poured into the mix. There is an effort to be serious about some of the relationships, yet the overall film doesn’t support such emotional gambits. A Warner Bros. Pictures release. Reviewed September 19, 2014.

  

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