Disappointing. That is the one word summary of Montreal native Shawn Levy’s (Night at the Museum, Date Night) film. For the amount of talent and likeable performers they have in this film the end result did not add up to the total of the parts. Besides the main actors you also get Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, and Rose Byrne. All that talent and they really had nothing to work with. It was one of those films in which you see the trailer or the commercial on television and you put it down on your must see film list. When you do see the film you realize you were duped and that the trailer had all the funny parts of the film leaving nothing of quality left to see.
Their father passes away and four adult siblings of the Altman family honour his last wish that they come together with their mother to sit Shiva. This is going to be one of the longest weeks of all their lives.
Back in the house that they all grew up brings up all kinds of feelings and memories for Judd (Jason Bateman – from television’s Arrested Development), Wendy (Tina Fey – from television’s 30 Rock), Phillip (Adam Driver – What If, Frances Ha), and Paul (Corey Stoll – from television’s House of Cards). Living together again with their mother Hillary (Jane Fonda – On Golden Pond, 9 to 5) is not easy and the peculiarities of their relationships resurface.
This film with a lengthy title is all about dialogue. Meaning it will sink or fail based on the words the script puts in the actors’ mouths and the chemistry between the actors. For the multitude of moments that did not work in the film I blame the script and not the actors’ delivering the lines. It is a comedy based on the humour provided by a dysfunctional family and was so much like a lower-level television sitcom. Kind of like the recently canceled sitcom The Millers in that it is rather formulaic and tends to rely too heavily on ridiculous humour. Some of the jokes fell so flat that I almost expected a laugh track to happen in order to pressure the viewer to laugh despite the fact that most of them were not funny.
The other weird facet of the film is that it tries to jam in a family drama in the middle of all the ridiculousness going on. It is awkward. Don’t really fit and sort of mess up the pacing. Though I have to say that the drama parts do for the most part work. The scene of Jane Fonda consoling Jason Bateman was rather good. Just not enough and because it swung back and forth it had an almost schizophrenic feel to it. It probably would have been wiser to stick to this aspect of the family reuniting due to the death of the patriarch than the sad attempt at humour.
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