Friday, September 4, 2015

This Is Where I Leave You

Year 7, Day 247 - 9/4/15 - Movie #2,139

BEFORE: I've been playing around with possible orders for movies for next February, and I think I've finally hit on something, so far I've got 18 films about love and romance, and if I can track down just three more specific films, I can create a chain of 21 films, 19 of which will link together - that won't be bad for my 8th consecutive Valentine's chain.  Of course, last year I nailed it, 28 films that all linked together, but I've still got time to improve next year's chain.  I also worked backwards to create a January lead-in chain that's now 13 films long, that's only half of a month, but I can keep working on it.  A new film is still being added every day, so I can treat those chains as frameworks, and see if each new film will fit somewhere inside.  A lot can happen in November and December to change the plans - I don't even have to maintain the actor linking if I don't want to, but I'll probably want to if I can.

But damn, given the title, it's really too bad I couldn't end my blog, or at least end a year, with this one.  I ended last year with "This Is the End", after all.  Now, what will be my last film - maybe "The Long Goodbye"?  

Connie Britton carries over from "The To Do List".

THE PLOT: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses and exes.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "August: Osage County" (Movie #1,903)

AFTER: Like "August: Osage County", this film uses a family funeral as a starting point, and over the course of the following few days, family members are brought together, confront each other, and all of their personal matters become topics of discussion.  And similarly, everyone in the family is screwed up in some way.  One brother just found his wife was sleeping with his boss, another brother is trying to get his wife pregnant but is constantly jealous of his own brother who is his wife's ex-boyfriend, a third brother is dating his older therapist, and the sister is in a loveless marriage and pines for her ex-boyfriend.  And then there's Mom...

If I'd known this was going to be so relationship-driven, I might have saved it for February.  Too late now, it's now the first film of a 3-movie Jason Bateman series.  I guess the message here is that no relationship is perfect, everyone always wants what they don't have, and then when they get it, they discover that they don't want it so much any more.  Even though the "It" is different for each character, the pattern is the same.  "Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold.  Her early leaf's a flower, but only for an hour."  As Robert Frost told us, nothing gold can stay.  

It's a little clunky that these siblings are brought together to sit shiva, and they're not even Jewish.  Did some screenwriter want to highlight this Jewish ritual, but felt that if the family was defined as Jewish, it would severely limit the audience, that it would only appeal to Jews?  If so, I think that sells the audience a little short, no?  Or did some studio executive want it Jewish, but not too much?  This starts to remind me of the mockumentary "For Your Consideration", where the filmmakers who set out to make "Home for Purim" are forced to change it to "Home for Thanksgiving".  

But it does accurately portray how nobody can get under your skin like your parents or siblings - these are characters who have spent so much time together that they know how to push each others buttons, how to insult each other and stop just short of hurting each other's feelings (most of the time, anyway).  A lot of the dialogue has that feeling of ringing true, but in the end it seemed like there were just too many threads to follow, too many bad relationship situations to keep track of.  And the one they told us the least about (the sister's love, and the nature of his accident) was the one that seemed the most interesting, so that was a shame.  

I would have liked to see more of this sporting goods store the children were always talking about - how it was run by their father, and what they plan to do differently in the future.  Nope, this wasn't explored at all.  Instead we were given shot after shot of a toddler going through potty training, which I don't find to be a source of great humor, though it's subject to personal taste, I guess.  Would a parent with a small child somehow find this charming, or entertaining in some small way?  Seems weird. 

Also starring Jason Bateman (last seen in "Identity Thief"), Tina Fey (last seen in "Admission"), Jane Fonda (last seen in "Barefoot in the Park"), Corey Stoll (last seen in "The Bourne Legacy"), Adam Driver (last seen in "Lincoln"), Rose Byrne (last seen in "Neighbors"),  Kathryn Hahn (last seen in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"), Timothy Olyphant (last seen in "Gone in 60 Seconds"), Dax Shepard (last seen in "Zathura: A Space Adventure"), Ben Schwartz (last seen in "The Interview"), Debra Monk, Abigail Spencer (last seen in "Oz the Great and Powerful"), Aaron Lazar (last seen in "The Notorious Bettie Page").

RATING: 5 out of 10 ice skates

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