Monday, March 19, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home - Movie Review

When a movie starts with the main character waxing philosophic about the movie Signs, you first know that marijuana must be involved, but that you might be in for a film that's a little bit different.

The movie follows Jeff (Jason Segel), who...wait for it...still lives at home.  Shocker, I know!  Jeff spends his days smoking pot and hanging out in the basement of his mother's house.  While you might think that Jeff is a slacker or loser (and you wouldn't be wrong), he's struggling with figuring out what he's supposed to do with his life and his place in the universe.  Aren't we all?

It's his mother's birthday and the only thing she wants from Jeff is to pick up some wood glue and fix a shutter.  Before Jeff finally leaves the house, he receives a wrong number from someone looking for "Kevin" and this name gets stuck in his brain.  As Jeff believes that there are no wrong numbers, he considers this to be a sign and looks for clues as he heads out of the house.  While following wherever these clues take him, he randomly runs into his older brother, Pat (Ed Helms).

Pat has his own problems in that he's in a marriage that struggling and doesn't seem to listen to anyone.  The biggest example of this is that against everyone's better judgement he buys a Porsche he can't afford.  Anyway, after Jeff and Pat run into each other, they happen to notice Pat's wife, Linda (Judy Greer), with another man.  They then follow Linda around and try to figure out what she's up to.

The story continues to build as they follow Linda and the signs that the universe is presenting Jeff.  The movie always feels like it's moving along and building to a resolution.  It's on the shorter side, as it's only 83 minutes and the events take place over just a single day.  

The main thing that helps make the movie work is that despite each character's flaws, they still come off as human and likable.  Jason Segel portrays Jeff with such a sweet naivete that when bad things happen to him in the movie, it really breaks your heart.  While it's a smaller cast, everyone is very good.  Jeff's mom, played by Susan Sarandon, has her own subplot involving her trying to find out the identity of a secret admirer from her work.  Maybe it's just me, but I still find her sexy as hell.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home was written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass.  Mark Duplass you may know from his role as 'Pete' on The League.  His wife, and The League co-star, Katie Aselton, has a small cameo in the movie.  I don't think this was as strong as their previous offering, 2010's Cyrus, and I still thought it was a little too 'mumblecore'-ish.  For a a movie that's is short as it is, it did feel like it dragged in a few parts and could have been a little funnier, rather than feel so improvised.  That's not to say it isn't funny though.  I found many things to laugh at throughout the movie.

I wanted to mention that I thought Michael Andrews score was interesting and added to the kind of quirky nature of the film.

While I liked Jeff, Who Lives at Home, I kind of feel a little disappointed at the same time.  Considering the cast and the previous works of the Duplass Brothers, I was just expecting a little more out of it as far as pure comedy.  I do think it's a very sweet movie with a nice message about keeping an open mind, looking for signs and trying to figure out your destiny.  I give it credit for making me care about the characters and actually feel something.  Because of those qualities, it manages to stand out from other comedies.  Due to its shorter length though, I think it's better suited for a rental.

3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

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