This is Where I Leave You
Just a quick note to let you all know how much I enjoyed the film adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper novel, This is Where I Leave You. (Tropper adapted his novel for the screen; the film is directed by Shawn Levy).
Bravo to casting director Cindy Tolan for assembling such a winning ensemble. Jane Fonda (The Newsroom) is the Altman family matriarch, Hilary, and when her husband dies, she tells her children it was their father's dying wish to have his family sit shiva together. And so, the children gather.
There's the eldest son, Paul, played by the terrific Corey Stoll (House of Cards). His wife is Alice (Kathryn Hahn), who also happened to date one of Paul's younger brothers, Judd (Jason Bateman). Judd is going through his own tsuris, having just found out his wife had been cheating on him with his boss. Paul and Judd's sister is Wendy, and the typically acerbic Tina Fey turns in a touching, sincere performance as the grieving sister whose marriage to Barry (Aaron Lazar, who, alas, does not sing in the film) is on the rocks. The youngest Altman sibling is Phillip, played effectively by Adam Driver (Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis). Phillip brings along his girlfriend, Tracy (Connie Britton), who is not only at least a decade older than him but also his therapist. (Broadway favorite Will Swenson (Hair, Les Miserables) shows up in flashbacks as the family patriarch.)
Interlopers include the young rabbi, played by funny man Ben Schwartz; neighbor Linda (Debra Monk (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)) and her son, Horry (Timothy Olyphant); Judd's boss, Wade (Dax Shepard); and Judd's high school flame, Penny, played by the delightful Rose Byrne (You Can't Take it With You).
All of the Altman children are dealing with their own troubles—on top of the death of their father—but the point of the film is that no matter how long they've been apart, no matter how uninvolved in one another's lives they've been until now, they are still family. And family will always be there for you. Family will always have shared history and memories, and family is the "place" to which you can always return. Even if someone has left you.