Jane Fonda Gets Crude and Lewd
By Skip Sheffield
Jane Fonda has turned to comedy- low comedy- in her golden years as the prickly, pushy, breast-enhanced matriarch of “This is Where I Leave You.”
This is best described as a comedy of situations, adapted by Jonathan Tropper from his novel and directed by Shawn Levy.
The main situation is that four grown siblings of the Altman family are “grounded” by their mother Hillary (Fonda) so that they sit Shiva for a week as is the Jewish custom when their father dies.
Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) points out his father was not the least bit religious and mother Hillary, a celebrity best-selling child psychologist and author, is not Jewish at all. Furthermore, despite having a know-it-all psychologist mother, the Altman clan is completely screwed up.
Poor Judd has just caught his sexy wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) “in flagrante delicto” with his jerky, egotistical young boss Wade (Dax Shepard).
Sister Wendy (Tina Fey) is married to Barry (Aaron Lazar) and has two children. Wendy is still haunted by guilt after a car accident left her childhood boyfriend Horry (Timothy Olyphant) brain damaged and in the care of his mother.
Paul Altman (Corey Stoll) is the most level-headed and responsible of the siblings, who runs the family’s sporting goods business. However Paul and his wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn) have been trying to have a child with no success, and Alice is getting desperate.
Finally there is Phillip Altman (Adam Driver), the baby of the family, who has refused to grow up and carries on like a playboy thanks to his much, much-older lady friend (Connie Britton).
As an example of the cheap humor, the young rabbi (Ben Schwartz) is continually referred to by his childhood nickname of “boner,” much to his distress.
The biggest situation of all is a switcheroo revealed at film’s finale by dear old mom and her best friend and neighbor Linda (Debra Monk), Horry’s caregiving mother.
There are some laughs, mostly crude, in the privileged setting of a Westchester estate. At the very least Jane Fonda proves to be a good sport, willing to play to the cheap seats.