If you’ve always wanted to know the answer to the question, “Can Hollywood make a movie that’s depressing from start to finish that people will still show up to see?”, it seems like This Is Where I Leave You has given us a resounding “YES.”
This book-turned-dramedy, based around four adult siblings who have to spend seven days essentially under house arrest in their childhood home after their father dies and grounds them as his last wish, was made for about $20 million and has already grossed over $22 million at the box office over its first two weeks in theaters.
Depressing might be too general of a description and one that turns people off. Maybe a better way to frame this movie is to say it makes a concerted effort not to give any of its story lines a happy ending just for the sake of it being a movie (where, generally, people want to see happy endings or at the very least clear-cut resolutions).
There’s a lot of raw human emotion, uncomfortable arguments and hurt feelings.
BUT IT’S FUNNY!
The humor comes specifically from these four siblings who want nothing to do with each other and have pretty much neglected one another over the past decade.
Here are the four siblings, in a nutshell:
- Judd: The main character who has tried to plan out his life so it would be perfect and uncomplicated. The movie begins with him discovering his wife is cheating on him with his boss.
- Wendy: The one daughter among the siblings. She’s married with two kids, but it turns out her husband’s an asshole and she’s still hung up on her ex-boyfriend that she ditched years ago.
- Paul: The tough guy of the group who runs the family business and has a bat-shit crazy wife who will stop at nothing to get pregnant.
- Phillip: The baby of the family who has grown up to be….a grown-up baby! He’s a womanizer, irresponsible, always expecting someone to bail him out of his troubles. You know the type.
You can tell from those descriptions that each character has his or her own set of problems and it seems like this unwanted reunion comes at a time where each of their lives are unraveling (some slowly, some quickly).
You should see this movie if: You worship at the altars of Bateman and Fey (Jason Bateman plays Judd, Tina Fey plays Wendy); you don’t mind having your humor with a large helping of sadness and depression to go with it; you enjoy that helter skelter type of movie where a lot is going on and you don’t really understand how everything intertwines until the very end (a la Crazy, Stupid, Love); you want to see the most perfectly-placed joint smoking scene in movie history (with all the depression, it was very necessary to give us a scene purely for comic relief purposes in the middle of the movie, and that’s what they did with this no-strings-attached marijuana scene at temple).
You should not see this movie if: You can’t control your tears…seriously, my fiancee cried from start to finish and she only cries for the ending of Armageddon; if you want happy endings; you can’t handle the thought of a dysfunctional family and siblings who possibly hate each other; you don’t like swearing and other R-rated components of movies; you prefer plot-driven action movies (like Transformers for instance) to subtle character-driven films; you hate to laugh.
On the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS), I’m giving This Is Where I Leave You a 6 out of 10. I’m not sure it’s one you’ll want to watch more than once due to the heaviness, but it’s worth it for the story and the laughs.