With his latest, This Is Where I Leave You, director Shawn Levy has sure assembled a doozy of a cast. Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver, Ben Schwartz, and Kathryn Hahn are present among this comedy powerhouse ensemble. Just hearing those names in conjunction should make most woozy with anticipation, but why does watching the trailer feel like such a cruel bait and switch? Where’s that blissful dysfunctional family comedy that we had fabricated in our heads? There are so many questions rattling in our minds after watching the trailer: Why does this two minute preview feel like such a slog? How did they make Tina Fey seem so boring? Why does it feel like I’m watching a trailer for the third retelling of Death at a Funeral? Weren’t two Death at a Funerals enough?
Apparently, they were not. This meeting of comedy giants should have been cosmic, the beginnings of a new comedy classic, but this first trailer for This Is Where I Leave You looks like a completely bloodless and generic week of family bonding that we’ve all sat through before. Big personalities like Fey and Driver seem stuck in the same generic sibling archetypes that have been rehashed in every family dramedy since the fall of Rome.
YouTube/Warner Bros. Pictures
The story follows the predictably fierce matriarch of the Altman family, who calls her children home after the death of their father, and after an predictably awkward reunion, predictably forces her adult children to hang about the old family home and predictably learn about life/love/themselves/each other/their parents/their town/whatever else, and confront their demons while having heartfelt confessionals under classroom fire sprinklers. Uggh. We bet at least one person comes out before the third act rolls around.
Now, it’s pure lunacy to judge an entire film based off of one two-minute trailer, but just from this preview, the film might not be the comedy revelation we were all hoping for, and it doesn’t help that Levy doesn’t have the best directoral track record. It’s just a shame to see such a great ensemble potentially go to waste, and it’s especially a shame that most of the jokes in the trailer boil down to “Uh oh, Mom’s being wildly inappropriate with her new boobs.” Levy may have crafted a better movie than the trailer lets on, but things aren’t looking so great from this short preview.