Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Spend a Pleasant Time with This Dysfunctional Family

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Spend a Pleasant Time with This Dysfunctional Family

Article excerpt

I'm not sure if "This Is Where I Leave You" is the most original film ever made, but what it lacks in freshness it makes up for with delectable actors and snappy scenes. The Altmans are borderline crazy, self-obsessed and narcissistic, but somehow 103 minutes with them feels like time well spent.

Directed by Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum") from a screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, based on his own novel, the movie brings together the four adult children of the Altman clan after their father passes away. Mom Hillary (Jane Fonda) is a real piece of work, a showboating therapist who wrote a best-selling book, "Cradle and All," in which she spilled the intimate details of her kids' tumultuous upraising.

They have not turned into well-adjusted adults. And they're none too pleased about their mom's insistence that they sit shiva together for seven days, per their father's dying request. (This, despite being only nominally Jewish.)

Judd (Jason Bateman) is the fulcrum, the character upon which all the others pivot. A successful radio producer and one of those guys who seems to have the perfect little life planned out, he's thrown for a loop when he catches his wife sleeping with his boss.

Sister Wendy (Tina Fey) is brittle and angry, mother to two young kids and married to an on-the-go businessman who can't put down the phone and work for even a few minutes, not to mention witness the miracle if his child's potty training.

Paul (Corey Stoll) is the oldest and most responsible, the one kid who stuck around in his hometown to take over the business from his father. He and his wife (Kathryn Hahn) have been trying without success to get pregnant, and the pressure and constant questions about their progress is like splitting a rail.

The baby of the clan is Phillip (Adam Driver), born years after the others and partially raised by them. A natural-born screw-up with an impish talent for needling others, Phillip is dating a much older woman (Connie Britton) who acts as his enabler and sugar momma. …

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