Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.
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Jeff, at 30, lives in his mom's basement, unemployed, looking for signs about what to do with his life. He answers a wrong-number call for "Kevin". Later, on a bus, he sees someone wearing a jersey with "Kevin" on the back. Jeff follows him. Meanwhile, Jeff's brother, Pat, a tone-deaf salesman, upsets his wife by buying a Porsche they cannot afford; Pat runs into Jeff soon after and they see Pat's wife with another man. At her job, Jeff and Pat's mom receives e-mails from a secret admirer; she tries to figure out who it is. Misunderstandings, errors, and confrontations abound. A backup on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway brings things to a head. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. The Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, were responsible for a terrific, creepy little comedy called Cyrus. It dealt with a dark, strange relationship between a mother and her grown, stay at home and do nothing son. The Duplass mumblecore beginnings often used familial relationships to find those moments of discomfort and comedy. Their latest movie brings all of that together as they examine multiple relationships within a family, and the possible role of destiny.
Jeff (Jason Segel) is an unemployed, 30 year old, childlike pot-head who lives in his mother's (Susan Sarandon) basement and watches the M Night Shyamalan movie Signs so often that he is convinced there are no "wrong numbers" in life ... everything is a sign leading us to our destiny. After the latest "sign" (phone call for an unknown Kevin), Jeff heads out to complete a simple task for his disenchanted mother. He gets sidetracked on his quest for Kevin, and stumbles into his brother Pat (Ed Helms).
By this time, we have seen Pat interact over breakfast with his wife Linda (Judy Greer). Note to guys: serving breakfast to your wife will not neutralize your surprise purchase of a Porsche. These two people have clearly lost whatever bond they once shared. One thing leads to another and we are soon watching Jeff and Pat stalk Linda and her male lunch friend ... or is he more? While this amateur detective work is playing out, Sharon (their mother) discovers she has a secret admirer at work. Her spirits are immediately lifted as she has pretty much given up on a personal life since the death of her husband years ago. Her friend Carol (Rae Dawn Chong) helps her be receptive to the idea, and this story line provides a nice Duplass twist.
Despite the fact that none of the characters are extremely likable: Jeff is borderline goofy, Pat is kind of an ass, Sharon just seems frustrated ... the story moves along so that each of them grows a bit and their relationships evolve. The ending is a perfect cap and provides meaning, though initially quite a shock to the system after first three-quarters.
The Duplass directing style utilizes micro-bursts of quick zoom in many scenes, giving this a quasi home-movie feel at times. As for the acting, I can't imagine another actor than Jason Segel could have pulled off the role of Jeff. In lesser hands, he would have come off as mentally unstable or just a total loser. Segel's sweetness pays off. It's always great to see Rae Dawn Chong back on screen, and I didn't even hate Susan Sarandon! Judy Greer's scene in the hotel room is so well played, it's a reminder of what a terrific and under-utilized actress she is. Don't expect a laugh outloud comedy, as this is more drama than comedy, though the smiles and chuckles occur in the moment.
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