Movie Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Rating: R (strong language, drug use)
Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: March 18, 2012
Directed by: Jay and Mark Duplass
Stars: 4 out of 5
Directors Jay and Mark Duplass previously explored the comedy world in their feature-film debut "Cyrus." That film focused on the relationship between a man, his new girlfriend, and her adult son who lived at home with her. Perhaps the two wanted to explore that type of relationship further because "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" has a similar storyline.
Jeff (Jason Segel, "The Muppets," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall") is an adult who never managed to leave home. He lives with his mother, but she makes him live in the basement. Jeff makes no attempt to leave home, and he would rather get stoned and play video games than look for a job. His mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon, "The Lovely Bones," "Dead Man Walking") wishes that he would at least get a job. Jeff has an equally poor relationship with his brother Pat (Ed Helms, "The Hangover," "Cedar Rapids"). Pat wishes that his brother would leave their mother's house, and he doesn't understand why his brother won't find a job.
When the movie starts, Jeff finds himself obsessed with the movie "Signs." He convinces himself that if he looks hard enough, he can find signs that will direct him through life. Jeff is proud of himself because he thinks that he is finally making the effort that his family urged him to make for years. Unfortunately, Jeff is the classic slacker character who never quite understands what the signs mean. He finds himself jumping from one activity to the next without any thought.
All that changes when he spots Pat's wife Linda (Judy Greer, "The Descendents," "27 Dresses") with another man. Instead of keeping his thoughts to himself, Jeff immediately tells Pat what he saw. The two spy on Linda, hoping to uncover the truth. Complicating matters further is the mysterious admirer who starts sending their mother secret emails. Jeff begins wondering what his place will be if his mother gets a new boyfriend.
"Jeff, Who Lives at Home" is the kind of movie that almost anyone can relate to because most people have issues or problems with their families. Some viewers might identify with the character of Jeff because they wonder where they belong, and they wish that they could do more with their lives. Other viewers might identify with Sharon because she wants a social life, but she cannot have a social life with her son living at home. Some people might even identify with Pat because they have siblings they do not understand.
The Duplass brothers do not spend time on exposition, and they do not introduce the characters to the viewers. Watching the movie is like stepping into the personal life of one small family. Viewers know little about the characters except for what they see on the screen. This can be slightly jarring, as it is difficult to care about the characters without some explanation of their histories or personalities. Linda barely appears in the movie, yet the directors built a major storyline around her. Despite that, viewers will find themselves caught up in the stories of each character.
At less than 90 minutes, "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" is almost too short. The directors could easily have added another 30 to 45 minutes to the movie without making it too long. As viewers get involved with the characters, they might find themselves wishing it was longer, if only to learn more about Jeff and Pat.
No movie is successful without the right casting. When movie studios want an everyman character that fans can relate to, many studios now go to Jason Segel. Segal has the kind of vulnerability that makes him seem like he is a real person. When fans watch him, they feel like he could be their next door neighbor, brother, or even boyfriend. In "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," Segel has the chance to once again shine in the role of an ordinary man.
The chemistry between Segel and Helms is comedy gold. Helms is the perfect choice for an insecure man with problems at home, while Segel has the right combination of vulnerability and strength required for the role of Jeff. When watching the two, viewers can almost imagine them as actual brothers. The movie takes a while to get going, but once it does, it turns into one of the best comedies of the last year. Everyone who watches the movie can relate to the choices and decisions that the characters make, and many will relate to the familial bond that appears throughout the movie. "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" is a must-see film for anyone who thinks they have family problems because the movie shows the bond that all families have.