Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. According to the new dramedy This Is Where I Leave You, apparently you can go home again, but it may not be a good idea.

This movie has an appealing, all-star cast and a promising set-up, and I really wanted to like it. And I do, but in spite of itself.

Despite the valiant performances of Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, and Jane Fonda, the movie is a hot mess of contrived situations, implausible character motivations, and unconvincing plot turns.

There was a lot of wonderful material to mine in a situation where a dysfunctional family is forced to deal with its childhood baggage as unhappy adults. But too often director Shawn Levy and screenwriter Jonathan Tropper settle for an easy, quick laugh instead of sustained truth. There are a lot of funny moments, but the movie just doesn’t hang together. Take it or leave it.

*** out of *****

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed films for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Mark also has written on the movies for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark has been an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University since 1998. A career arts administrator, he is the executive director of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House and now lives on Market Street. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.