Adapted from Jonathan Trooper’s book of the same name, This Is Where I Leave You (2014) is a family comedy-drama. The movie stars many big names like Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, and Kathryn Hahn. The story is heartwarming, and the viewer wouldn’t want to miss out on the crazy family dynamics between 4 siblings and a grieving mother. Every character brings a certain amount of charm to the screen, making this movie a must-watch. It is entertaining, intriguing, and has just the right amount of humor to tickle your bones.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The movie is narrated from Judd Altman’s (Jason Bateman) perspective. He is a guy who has everything sorted in life. He likes his job, has a good wife, and remains content. But on his wife’s birthday, life throws the rug out from under him, and he loses his footing. Juddcatches his wife, Quinn (Abigail Spencer), cheating on him with his boss on their bed. It turns out they have been fooling Judd for over a year. He leaves her and moves to another place.
He gets a call from his sister to notify him about their father, Mort’s demise. The man was sick for a long time and finally breathed his last. His father’s dying wish was that they all sit for shiva. Shiva is Hebrew for seven. It’s a Jewish custom where the mourners are supposed to stay at home for seven consecutive days. They have to sit together as a family and connect with each other again.
What happens during the funeral?
At the time of the burial, the viewers get to meet Judd’s entire family. Paul Altman (Corey Stoll) is the eldest of them all. Judd is the second child. Then there’s Wendy (Tina Gey), and finally, Phillip (Adam Driver). All the Altman children are married, but nobody knows about Judd’s divorce except Wendy. Phillip is dating a woman twice her age. He thinks he is dating someone who is the spitting image of his mother because he has Oedipal issues.
Hilary Altman (Jane Fonda), the grieving matriarch, is a renowned psychologist and writer. She has a neighbor named Linda (Debra Monk) who helps her out with everything. They seem to be close friends, but Linda’s son, Horry (Timothy Olyphant), met with an accident many years ago and has memory problems. Wendy dated him during their high school days and feels guilty for leaving him alone after the accident.
Do they sit for Shiva?
The rabbi tells them that Shiva must be strictly followed for seven days. They all agree reluctantly. After the first Shiva, Judd is exhausted and wants to go out. He meets Penny (Rose Byrne), who is running a store. She is confident and smart, and it’s obvious that they share a history. Penny runs an ice skating ring and is an amazing ice skater. Apparently, Penny was crazy about Judd during their school days, but Judd was interested in someone else before he settled down with his wife, Quinn.
Who gets the family business?
Judd wakes up from loud noises coming from the living room. They are all fighting over their father’s business and who is going to inherit it. He left 50% for Paul, and the remaining is to be divided between the rest of the siblings. Paul is demanding sole ownership of the business because he has been running this business with his father for many years.
Phillip is adamant that he wants to work with Paul and that he won’t sell Paul his share. Wendy gives her share to Judd as a token of love, and Judd also doesn’t want to give up his share. The argument soon gets out of hand. Paul and Phillip engage in a physical brawl. Judd hurts himself while trying to stop the fight.
What is happening with Paul and his wife?
During the Shiva, all their friends and family visit them. They ask everyone what’s going on in their lives. One constant question Paul receives is regarding children. Paul and his wife, Annie (Kathryn Hahn), have been trying to have children for a long time, but they aren’t able to conceive. They are both desperate to expand their family, but fate isn’t working in their favor.
Later that night, the family shares their favorite memory of their father, but Judd doesn’t. He isn’t able to recall any of the memories he shared with his father. Meanwhile, the siblings continue to bond by going out for drinks and sitting for Shiva. The entire family finds out about Judd’s marital situation and is very supportive.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014) Ending, Explained:
What happens to Judd and Quinn?
Judd is avoiding Quinn’s phone calls because he is going through a lot. He is trying to deal with the infidelity and losing his father. He wants to focus on spending time with his family at the moment. Obviously, Judd finds comfort in Penny and spends the night with her. But Quinn shows up and tells Judd that she is pregnant and that he is the father. Judd doubts her but is surprised to find out that his boss is sterile and he can never have kids.
When Annie finds out Quinn is expecting, she is furious and heartbroken at the same time. She is envious. She tries to flirt with Judd (whom she dated for six months before marrying Judd’s brother, Paul). Later, she apologizes for her behavior and cries about her situation.
Paul walks in on them and assumes there is something fishy going on between the two of them. Paul is angry and tries to hit Judd. He makes a run for it, and they are out in the garden fighting with each other like kids. Their mother tries to stop it by doing something extremely shocking. She kisses her neighbor, Linda.
What’s going on between Jane and Linda?
Jane and Linda are lesbians, and they have been dating each other since the time Jane’s husband fell sick. They confess that even Mort knew about them and was happy Jane found someone and she wouldn’t have to be alone after his death. The family is again supportive, and none of them have any apprehensions. They don’t say anything negative to break their mother’s heart.
Judd tries to fix an electric circuit in the basement but gets electrocuted. He passes out and sees his father. The flashback is heartening as his father picks him up after he falls from his bicycle. He wakes up sobbing. He finally recalls a memory of his father and isn’t numb from his death anymore.
The movie ends with Paul agreeing to let Phillip work with him, but Judd has to make sure he doesn’t screw up anything. Judd decides to date Penny and divorce Quinn, and co-parent the baby. Judd quietly leaves the family as he hates saying goodbye. Phillip catches him and gives him a hug. He leaves in Phillip’s car as the sun’s rays shine over his face.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014) Themes Analyzed:
The nuances of familial relations:
This Is Where I Leave You shows many important aspects of familial relationships. There will be bitter instances with your siblings and parents, but that doesn’t mean one should completely cut ties with them. They all have major problems with their mother writing every personal detail about them in her book, but they never stop her from doing so because that’s her passion.
They believe she has the liberty to write anything she wants. It’s on them to take this in a positive or negative way. The dynamics between the four siblings are so real. It will remind the viewers of their own families and how they deal with their siblings. Each sibling has a distinct dynamic from the other, and it’s so cleverly depicted in the movie.
The members of the Altman family keep reminding each other that they have each other’s backs no matter what. The story is ordinary, but the characters are layered as each one of them is battling personal problems. In the end, the movie will make you miss your own family.