A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that This Is Where I Leave You -- based on Jonathan Topper's novel and starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda -- is a hilarious, emotional dramedy about coming home and finding yourself, sometimes at a place where you didn't expect to do so. Though it's funny, it explores some serious themes, including miscarriage, infidelity, and death. Characters grapple, often inelegantly, with very complicated issues that may be over the head of tweens and younger teens. They also swear a lot, sometimes in front of children (including "s--t" and "f--k"), drink socially (sometimes getting wasted), and smoke weed without many real consequences. There's a fair bit of sex talk/jokes related to things like crude nicknames and boob jobs; a couple having an affair is caught in the act, and they're both seen naked from behind. Other pairs are shown in bed before/after sex, and one couple's amorous interlude is overheard via a baby monitor.
What's the story?
Based on the best seller by Jonathan Tropper, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU starts at the end of the life of the Altman family patriarch. Judd (Jason Bateman), Wendy (Tina Fey), Paul (Corey Stoll), and Phillip (Adam Driver) -- the adult Altman siblings -- have just lost their father. Along with their mother, Hilary (Jane Fonda) -- a therapist who's written about each and every one of them -- they're sitting shiva. They haven't seen much of each other lately, but they have seven days to reconnect, and -- as often happens when families get together -- unearth past disagreements. For Judd, it's an especially difficult time: He's just discovered that his wife, Quinn (Abigail Spencer), is having an affair with his boss, Wade Beaufort (Dax Shepard).
Is it any good?
Based on the cast alone, This Is Where I Leave You is a winner. Nearly every single name in the credits -- topped, of course by Fonda, who's enchanting --brings weight to the movie. See it just to watch them create, with much success, a dysfunctional family that functions with deep love and respect for one another -- a motley, hobbled crew we can all love.
Beyond that, though, you'll be working more with bits of pleasure and enjoyment than with a film that's appealing as a whole. It's funny, yes, though sometimes the laughs come at the expense of originality. And it's moving, though the insight arrives bundled with a helping of treacle. At least the story itself is offbeat. But truly, the best reason to see This Is Where I Leave You is that it leaves you thinking just enough about your own family's quirks and secrets to appreciate its authentic, if sometimes obvious, takeaways. And that cast! But we've mentioned that already.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how This Is Where I Leave You treats drinking/drug use. Are there realistic consequences? If not, what message does that send?
What role does sex play in the movie? How does it impact the characters' relationships with each other?
Are the Altmans a typical family, or are they more messed up than others? What can we learn from them?
- In theaters: September 19, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: December 16, 2014
- Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda
- Director: Shawn Levy
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book characters, Brothers and sisters
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual content and some drug use
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.