Film review: Jeff Who Lives at Home (15)
Published: 19 May 2012 12:300 comments
The one where dust is your best friend, Jeremy Kyle re-runs seem enticing and three packets of crisps a day is the norm. However, generally speaking, most of us get over that and start taking responsibility for ourselves by the time we reach adulthood. This is not the case for philosophical pothead, Jeff (Jason Segel).
A creation from Paramount Picture's off-the-wall sibling, Paramount Vantage, Jeff Who Lives At Home revolves around a 30-something slacker who is completely sold on the idea of fate, so much so that he spends all his time in his mother's (Susan Sarandon) basement, wearing out his bong and pondering destiny while seeking inspiration from the Mel Gibson movie, Signs.
One morning, Jeff's usual couch potato routine is disturbed when his mother, Sharon, sends him out on a mission to buy wood glue, but on his way to the store he gets distracted by what he thinks are signs from the universe. A series of unexpected and mildly amusing events lead him to continually cross paths with older brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is currently going through a midlife crisis and thinks his wife Linda (Judy Greer) is cheating on him.
"What you just said sounded like Yoda on acid, stumbling into a business meeting," moans Pat, when Jeff begins spouting babble about the cosmic order, proving that the two brothers are anything but close. Regardless, Pat enlists Jeff's help in trying to catch Linda out, sneakily chasing her, and her mystery companion, across town.
While the pair are busy bonding, crashing flashy cars and offering bribes to various reception staff, Sharon is having her own adventure at work when she discovers that she has a secret admirer. It is a welcome diverson from the two sons that she "hates at the moment" and the constant reminder that she is a lonely widow.
Written and directed by the Duplass brothers, who happen to be experts in the indie slacker genre, Jeff Who Lives At Home is a dreary insight into the broken bonds of a disconnected family.
The look and feel is nothing extraordinary, reminiscent of many indie films before it which reflect the supposed reality of life rather than the Hollywood version. That said, Sarandon, Helms and Segel, make for an exceptional leading cast. Light-hearted comedy and a childlike innocence, particularly from gentle giant Segel, differentiates the film from others like it - making it more refreshing than rigidly reflective.
Helms and Segel's reconnection is wonderful, too, as they both realise they are still working through the damaging aftermath of their father's death more than 10 years prior.
Despite adopting a dreamy pace in places, the culimination of the day, when Jeff finally realises what fate has in store for him, makes the whole film worthwhile. Unlike the pessimism you expect from the genre, Jeff Who Lives At Home actually has the 'happy ever after' factor. Relationships are rebuilt and Jeff may actually find the meaning of life - and his wood glue - in the end.