Director(s): Jay & Mark Duplass
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Release Date (USA): May 11, 2012
"Everyone and everything is interconnected in this universe. Stay pure of heart and you will see the signs. Follow the signs, and you will uncover your destiny." -JeffJeff (Jason Segal) is someone who believes in the divine, that there is a reason for everything and everyone has a unique destiny to fulfill if only they follow the signs. Jeff is also an unemployed 30-year old living in his mother’s basement, so yeah, there’s that. Jeff’s brother, Pat (Ed Helms), is a clueless salesman who doesn’t realize his marriage is on the rocks until the day he catches his wife (Judy Greer) with another man. Jeff’s mom (Susan Sarandon) struggles to deal with her two deadbeat sons. Throughout the course of that day, Jeff and Pat are determined to find out if Pat’s wife is having an affair. Instead, their journey allows them to find themselves and each other.
When I saw that the cast consisted of Jason Segal, Ed Helms and Judy Greer, my thoughts immediately drifted to Judd Apatow’s raunchy productions. Friends, don’t let the title or casting fool you, this movie is no such thing. I can’t ever recall watching something directed by the Duplass brothers so this was my first experience with their style of directing. Though it wasn’t quite what I expected, admittedly, I was impressed. I thought this movie was going to be your run-of-the-mill comedy with little meaning or value, but I was mistaken. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a dramedy that functions as a character study more than anything. It takes us deep into the lives of three exceedingly unhappy people and their meaningless existences. There were definitely comedic moments but the movie also had me crying at the very end (which is a rarity for me).
Another notable thing is the lack of a big budget which allows for the focus to be more on the dialogue and in character development. But this isn’t a problem because it’s these things that make the movie so special. The Duplass brothers have shown us seemingly unlikable characters and managed by the end of the film to make them very likable. This is also a testament to the strength of the actors as well. Segal, Helms and Sarandon are totally believable in their portrayal of the unhappy family dynamic and yet are still completely charming at the same time. They are realistically flawed and they suffer, lacking in purpose and looking for redemption. The Duplass brothers use that suffering to fuel much of the comedy in the film and the juxtaposition, in this case, works. These characters get you thinking and reflecting on their growth both as individuals and as a family.
I think the thing that is most impressive about the film is how it begins with a sign (the movie Signs, actually) and each action and interaction builds upon the one before it. Jeff, Who Lives at Home starts off with the characters, each on their own, but during the course of the film their stories steadily collide and intertwine, showing us that these people are more connected than they ever realized. Fate is a key theme here and all events culminate in them figuring out what his/her own destiny really is. It’s a truly remarkable movie because of its honesty and sincerity. It will tickle both your funny bone and your heartstrings.
Summary PrognosisJeff, Who Lives at Home is a bit of a thinker that leaves you reeling by the very end. It’s an endearing story about destiny, family and love. Chalk full of smart humour, it’s totally worth the time if you’re looking for a memorable film that takes a deeper look into the flaws of man (and woman). If you’re looking for hope, watch this film, like right now.
Watch It: Amazon | Best Buy
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
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