After the passing of their father, Judd Altman (played by Arrested Development star Jason Bateman) and his siblings return to the family home where they must remain in the house for seven days participating in the Jewish mourning tradition of Shiva.
Put simply, this film is enjoyable. It just is. The charming humour portrayed throughout is as likely to uplift whatever mood you’re in as it is to put a genuine smile on your face. The down-to-earth writing is implemented perfectly by a five star cast including Jane Fonda (two-time Oscar winner), Tina Fey (writer of Mean Girls) and Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids).
The scenes are refreshingly natural and the ungraceful style of comedy really lends itself to telling a story of love and loss with incredible potency. In the intermittent moments between the smiles and laughter the writer makes a real and genuine attempt to look at family relationships and with startling accuracy considering the films branding as a comedy: this, for me, is one of the film’s greatest feats.
It’s difficult, by anyone’s stretch to produce an Oscar worthy comedy yet we have to realize that perhaps that’s not what the genre is about. If there was issue to take with the writing of the script, certainly, the excessive use of adult innuendo can become slightly cumbersome and I can see why some may take that stance. For me however, every scene was genuinely worth watching. Jason Bateman plays a blinder, as is often the case, and the rest of the cast give sterling efforts in forcing you to invest in story arcs and plots throughout making each and every interaction meaningful and gratifying to watch. The star of the show, undoubtedly however is Miss Jane Fonda. Whether she’s inappropriately speaking of her deceased husband’s “endowment” or giving off to her 40 year old children, she is truly impeccable throughout. Johnathan Tropper does a phenomenal job with the script and makes a real effort in investment with characters, whether it’s leading roles like Hilary Altman (played by Jane Fonda) or the almost random, yet always perfect, intermittences of Young Judd trying to get to grasps with toilet training and it is truly to his testament. (Tropper, that is).
All in all this film for me way surpassed any expectations I had going in and with a sea of talent on the screen it is easy to see why: an uplifting comedy that does everything in its power to not ‘overplay’ itself and finishes with a tremendously satisfying conclusion. Jason Bateman’s character, Judd, at one point in the film refers to life as “unpredictable, irrational and complicated.” This movie portrays that fact to a tee and on a cold, wet Autumnal evening, it is a truly great alternative to the serious and sombre tones of blockbusters like ‘The Judge’ and whilst other film critics like Rotten Tomatoes have given this film a measly 43% all you have to do is look at their 47% rating of my childhood classic ‘Sinbad’ to know who you can trust.
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey
Running Time: 103 minutes