When news reaches the Attman children that their father has passed away, the four adult siblings return to their childhood home to deal with the repercussions. Daughter Wendy (Tina Fey) is in an unsatifying marriage, while brother Phillip (Adam Driver) lives a fast life full of excuses but little success. Meanwhile, elder-brother Judd (Jason Bateman) learns that his wife is having an affair with his boss, while Brother Paul (Stahl) seems to be the only responsible one, having taken over the family business. But there's also the brain-damaged Horry (Timothy Olyphant) as well as Judd's 'girl-who-got-away' interest Penny (Rose Byrne). Their mother (Jane Fonda) - who made a fortune airing the family's dirty laundry in a tell-all - hasn't seen her children together in years but is mindful of the changes and struggles they have undergone. As the dysfunctional family converges to carry out their father's last wish, patience will be tested and lessons learned that the rock the siblings to their cores.
The constant problem with ensemble films is the lack of time we get to spend with all the players - someone's story inevitably gets lost, and in Leave we see that happen on multiple occasions (at least four that I cared to count). The idea that people of all races and economic backgrounds suffer the same relationship problems is totally acceptable, but it's Levy's suggestion that somehow rich white people suffer more makes everyone in the film seem entitled rather than worthy of our attention. Olyphant is perhaps the worst-used, a terrific actor who gets to look slow for about 10 minutes before his story is jettisoned in favor of Bateman's. I found myself wishing Horry's storyline would have taken center stage, but it's clear that Levy is shooting for a mile wide and a foot deep and not the other way around.
But Leave is far worse than its mechanics suggest, suffering from a lack of identity and utterly failing to make the plight of this rich but dysfunctional family appealing as a personal tale. Instead, we're treated to sad scenes of regret as Bateman and Fey share space on the rooftop of their parent's home, as the two (and the entire cast) remember their father while whining about their problems. I think it goes without saying that everyone (including the rich) has their share of strife, but we don't need a wishy-washy film to remind us. Other actors like Stohl and Fonda are there just to hold space when Bateman, Fey, and Byrne are off-screen. Byrne has made better films lately, but her love interest arc is paper-thin with her resolution seen a mile away. Yep, she'll pork Bateman, hate him, then return to him just in time for the ending. Blah blah blah.
This is Where I Leave You is rated R for for language, sexual content and some drug use and has a runtime of 103 minutes.
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