“This Is Where I Leave You” – A Comedy. Or is it?

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Rated R
103 minutes
Comedy (or is it?)

Cast: Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tiny Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard

A father passes away and when his four grown children return home to his funeral, their nominally religious mother enforces a Shiva, the Jewish seven days of mourning. With much resistance the four eventually agree to honor this request bringing them all together in their childhood home for a week – longer than they’ve been together since childhood.

With children in tote, spouses coming and going and all their sibling baggage (figurative) their is much to rediscover about one another including their mom. Life doesn’t always hand us the life we expected. We’re required to learn and adjust as we go along. And while none of us is perfect… hopefully we’re better in some way for going through challenges, disappointments and realities especially if we have a loving family within arms reach.

I love these characters (and this cast!) Hillary Altman (Jane Fonda) is this accepting mother of reason who loves nothing more than her four children and the husband who just passed away. Her oldest Paul (Corey Stoll) is the reasonable one. He’s taken over the family business, married and he and Annie (Kathryn Hahn) are still trying to get pregnant. Judd left town for a career in radio, living in the city with his darling wife believing his life and career is all that and a bag of chips but then life happens to him right before his father’s death. Wendy (Tina Fey) marries the executive who can’t stop working and pops out a couple of kids. Living out of town helps her forget about the man she really fell in love with years ago and why she can’t have him. And then there’s Phillip. The baby of the family, the wild child, who can’t seem to find himself until he goes to therapy where he finds lot more than himself.

The seven days together reveals a lot about each characters personal struggles as we watch them each wrestle with their own demons. Some of them find a way to live with those ills. Others grow past them. But they all reconnect as a family. And isn’t that what we all really want – people who know us and love us anyway.

Note: Just because it’s called a comedy don’t expect LOL belly laughs. A better description is dramady. But then that’s just one chick’s opinion.
Arruga! = 0
Fidget Factor = 0
Age Range = 16
Overall Grade = B +

Dolphin Tale 2 – There could be tears.

Dolphin Tale 2
PG
107 minutes = 1 hour 47 minutes
Drama/Family

Same cast. Three years later.
Same cast. Three years later.

Winter, a dolphin that lost her tail, loses the mother who adopted her. Living alone in the Clearwater Marine Hospital is not an option for any dolphin. They are very social animals. Will the staff and her caregivers find a companion for her so she can remain at the Marine facility?

Well, we probably know the answer to that. So is there any other reason to spend an hour and 47 minutes watching another Dolphin Tale? I think there is.

If you left the first Dolphin flick feeling educated about marine life, moved by the intelligence of these creatures and maybe even a little inspired by a PG story…then you’ll likely enjoy part 2. It is also based on true events.

Same cast (Harry Connick, Jr., Ashely Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Free, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff) are back together 3 years later along with a special guest star Bethany Hamilton, the remarkable and accomplished surfer who gained national attention after her left arm was bitten off by a tiger shark. And yes, kids do grow up fast! Our young actors who found a beached dolphin in the first film are now finding each other – just a little bit. After all they’re now teens. But don’t worry – there’s nothing inappropriate. And they’re embarking on new experiences they’ve earned from working at the Marine facility.

The film was a little slow at times leaving space in my brain to wonder about the dolphins I was watching… were they real or mechanical? They were real! Winter played – herself. As did the other sea creatures. And apparently she’s quite the ham. Producer Richard Ingber says if Winter isn’t up to performing on any given day of shooting, the crew moves on to something else. As he says, the dolphins come first.  And yes, the pesky pelican is also a ham.

Oscar nominees Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”) co-produce the film with Alcon President of Worldwide Marketing, Richard Ingber, who was responsible for the first film too.

Ingber believes that Winter is a real inspiration for people who may want to give up hope on their own disability or difficulty. He hopes that she provides that push to get over it. Seeing Winter may give them inspiration and hope, and as corny as that may sound for a movie real life could sure use more moments like that. But that’s just one chick’s opinion.
Arruga! = 0
Fidget Factor = 1 (too long)
Age Range = 7 and up ( if you child can’t sit through anything for 1 hour and 47 minutes don’t do take them)
Overall grade = B+