MOVIE REVIEW: “This is Where I Leave You”

Despite spot-on performances from its lead actors, “This is Where I Leave You” leaves audiences overwhelmed from the cramming of dramatic events into an hour and a half-long film.

The film opens with Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) finding his wife, Quinn, (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his arrogant boss, Wade (Dax Shepherd). As if that wasn’t bad enough, Judd later finds out that his father has died and made a final wish that his antagonistic children would return home to commemorate his death. However, that’s not where the dramatic series of events stops.

It gets even worse.

Within the next hour of the film, issues concerning infidelity, a surprise pregnancy, a troublesome attempt at conception and even a shocking lesbian confession crowds the film. Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Corey Stall play the roles of Judd’s siblings, while Jane Fonda gives a refreshing portrayal of the family’s matriarch. While the film includes great acting performances, it lacks the time and space to fully develop its storyline (which was, of course, developed wonderfully in the book by Jonathan Tropper).

This family has issues—without a doubt. Yet, these issues seem more appropriate for a TV sitcom rather than a feature film.


Why Women Must See “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Guardians of the GalaxyBesides its funny leading man, intense action scenes and host of comedic supporting characters, the real gem in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is actually green.

“Guardians” shows the adventure that follows thief Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) as he travels his galaxy transporting and protecting a mysterious orb that has disastrous power. A host of other criminals travel with Quill, also known as Star-Lord, including a genetically-engineered raccoon named Rocket (perfectly voiced by Bradley Cooper), Rocket’s companion and somewhat talkative tree Groot, inmate Drax the Destroyer (wrestler Dave Bautista) and green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Each member of the gang brings his or her (or its) own style to the bunch. Rocket’s no-nonsense attitude (in perfect contrast to his size) steals countless scenes in the movie. Yet, although Gamora doesn’t bring much of the laughs, she brings much (much) more.

Gamora is smart, sexy (yes, she works that green skin) and strategic. Not long after her introduction in the film, she’s already kicking Quill’s ass. To top it off, it’s her plan that leads the rest of the “guardians,” as they are eventually called, out of prison and on to their quest with the coveted orb.

The film is obviously male-dominated. However, Gamora shines in nearly every scene that she’s in with her tough attitude and lethal fighting skills. She may be surrounded by men (or the “biggest idiots in the galaxy”) but she holds her own. Saldana made sure of it.

Saldana has remained vocal about her opinions of female characters in film today. In an interview with “The Telegraph,” she commented: “Why would I beat around the bush? I’d be wasting your money and your time if I played someone who doesn’t feel to me like a realistic woman. To me, a woman is not an incompetent, impotent, inept creature. I’ve never met a woman like that. Yet half of the scripts you read in Hollywood have [subservient] characters. I’m not a maid to anybody.”

Saldana appears to be unapologetic, fierce, and smart. So, it’s only fitting that her roles mirror those some attributes.

So, finally, in the midst of male superheroes such as Ironman, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and any other man that’s not mentioned, women have another superheroine we can add to our list of favorites.

And she’d give any other superhero a run for his money.