Film Review: This Is Where I Leave You

This review was published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 28th October 2014.

There’s no doubt that direct Shawn Levy sure knows how to assemble an amazing ensemble cast. His Night At The Museum trilogy (part three is released later this year) attracted an enviable cast which managed to transcend the cheesy material. In This Is Where I Leave You, Levy has done it again, and this time, the script reaches the heights of the star studded ensemble, just.

After finding his wife in bed with his boss, the traumatised Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) is forced to return to his childhood home when his father passes away. Spending a week with his family in shiva at the request of his father, a Jewish tradition of seven days of mourning (even though his parents are not Jewish), deep rooted dysfunctions arise to comedic effect.

Wendy (the brilliant Tina Fey) is divorced with two children, one of whom has just learnt to use the potty and is prepared to demonstrate his new skills just about everywhere. Older brother Paul (Corey Stoll) is having trouble impregnating his clucky wife (Kathryn Hahn), who just happens to be one off Judd’s exes. Younger brother Phillip (Adam Driver – seemingly contractually required to appear in every film this year) is the problem child who has brought along his psychiatrist (and lover). And matriarch of the family Hilary (a radiant Jane Fonda) has bought herself a new set of breasts. You know the rest.

Screenwriter Jonathan adapt his own novel and manages to strike that perfect balance where every character gets their own moments and no performance dominates the film.

Not exactly laugh a minute but rather a movie that will keep you smiling throughout, This Is Where I Leave You doesn’t break any new ground in the family comedy stakes but is worth the price of admission just to see the cast in action.

Published in: on November 20, 2014 at 17:17  Leave a Comment  
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My Christmas Shopping Survival Guide

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 20th December 2011.

I’ve had some very reliable information that Christmas is coming soon. Apparently, tradition dictates that you purchase gifts for everyone you know. To avoid meltdown, follow my thirteen simple instructions to survive the silly season.

  1. There’s nothing wrong with gift vouchers. If you have concerns that the recipient will know how much you spent on them, leave the price tags on all your other gifts so no-one feels left out.
  2. Your family and friends will love receiving gift vouchers for specialty stores in towns hundreds of kilometres away. Not only do they get to choose their own present, they get to have a holiday too.
  3. Avoid the temptation of singing along with the in-store music in department stores. They’ve done their research and found that it causes excessive spending on lab rats. Take your own music. I recommend a little Lou Reed to keep your Christmas generosity away.
  4. Don’t agonise on choosing presents that perfectly match the likes and interests of the recipient. Just buy them anything. That’s what your loved ones have done for you. How else do you explain the Jack Vidgen and Susan Boyle CDs you’ll get this year?
  5. A great choice for a present is a mobile phone. Nothing says I love you like a monthly financial burden for the next two years.
  6. Got a geek in your life? Pick up the Star Wars blu-ray collection for them. The high definition transfer is so detailed that the once magical alien worlds, characters and spaceships are reduced to what they really were: cheap sets, costumes and plastic models. You’ll spoil Star Wars for them and they’ll be a more interesting person for it afterwards.
  7. Don’t get upset that the shop clerk is slowly talking you through using the EFTPOS machine, even though you’ve already used one twenty times today already. With the stress of Christmas, you probably look a little tired, plus you’ve just tried to pay for your shopping with your Medicare card.
  8. Concerned about whether your friends and family might not share the winnings from the Scratchies you bought them? Try scratching them before you pop them in the card to avoid any potential conflicts.
  9. Do you have to buy a $10 Kris Kringle gift for someone at work you barely know? Postage stamps are a practical present that they probably won’t love but they definitely will use.

10. Trust me. No-one wants a digital photo frame for Christmas. They are this year’s equivalent of underwear and socks.

11. Buy your loved one two tickets to a concert that you really want to see and they are so-so about. You are almost guaranteed that they will take you, plus they’ll probably drive you too.

12. Glee is so last year. By purchasing one of their two hundred soundtrack CDs, you are supporting them to destroy popular music, one song at a time.

13. A pet is for life, not just for Christmas. Don’t buy anyone an animal, unless it is honey glazed or slow roasted.

On behalf of me, myself and Irene, have a satisfactory Christmas and eat cherries until you puke. I’ll be back next week with the best films and TV of the year.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 09:07  Leave a Comment  
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