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Everybody has a quirky movie that they, and few other people or
critics, like. It just might be that a movie simply comes along at the
right point in our lives and interlocks with events in it. I certainly
have a number of movies among my favorites that fit into this category,
and I have a feeling that Jeff, Who lives at Home might have been
admitted to it.
Although it is billed as a comedy, and there are certainly comic elements to it, there is a more serious component that underlies it and gives it some depth. Jason Segel plays a slacker who, at the age of 30, has few prospects (and living at home at 30 seems to be the modern stereotype of a loser). Jeff clings to the idea that some 'sign' will appear to show him the way. In fact, he is viewed as nothing but a loser by his mother, brother, and just about everyone else. When someone mistakenly calls his number asking for Kevin, Jeff, seeing this as the sign he's been waiting for, begins his search for his role in the universe, brushing aside all ridicule in the process.
I like movies that show how small, apparently insignificant, choices can lead to life changing events. I also like movies in which a character is redeemed by adhering to principles that everyone else thinks are insane. In its own subtle way, the movie questions many of the basic premises that underlie modern society. Yeah, I know, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but, I suppose, that's why we all like certain movies that others don't.
You're not going to get a better guy to play a slacker-loser than Segel. The other actors hold up their roles well. I admit that I expected little of this movie, but I found it engaging right from the opening scene. Give it a chance and I foolishly believe you will not be disappointed
Don't let the title scare you away, 'Jeff, Who lives At Home' is a deep
character study about three unhappy people and the meaningless
existences they each inhabit.
One such person is Pat (Ed Helms), a man stuck in a roller coaster of a relationship with his wife, Linda (Judy Greer). Pat has recently purchased any man's dream car, a brand new Porsche. Judy doesn't share in his delight for his new automobile, which only distances them even more. When Pat suspects Linda of having an affair, it leads him on a inept detective mysterious, where most of the films humor draws on.
Susan Sarandon plays Sharon, the mother of Pat. A widower, Sharon is very lonely and loans for someone to connect with. When a "secret admirer" begins sending her flirty messages, Sharon is delightfully surprised someone is still interested in her despite her age. It's up to Sharon to uncover this mystery person's identity.
The last chapter, the title character, is played by Jason Segal. By far the best part of the movie, Jeff is a slacker in his 30's with no real aim in life. After seeing the movie 'Signs' and having someone with the wrong number call him and ask for a Kevin, he believes it to be a sign. The rest of his arc delves into him following after all things tied to "Kevin," and the strange paths it takes him.
A common misconception I can see being falling into is that this will be a broad, raunchy comedy, like the ones Ed Helm and Jason Segal have headlined in their career. If you go into this film expecting that, you'll be disappointed. This is a thinking man's movie, with smart humor and likable characters sprinkled in. With your time.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the newest feature from the writing/directing
team of Jay and Mark Duplass, is a difficult film to accurately
explain. You look at the cast list, headlined by Jason Segel and Ed
Helms, but the Duplass brothers deliver something entirely outside of
what you'd expect with these two at the head. As they did with their
previous film Cyrus, they've taken actors who are known primarily as
comedians and used their natural humor in a unique way, placing them in
the shoes of more dramatic and potentially unlikeable characters.
Segel plays Jeff, who (as expected) lives in his mother's basement and fills his day with repeated viewings of Signs and is upset when his mother (an expertly cast Susan Sarandon) demands that he go to Home Depot and buy some glue to fix a door in the kitchen. Ed Helms is Pat, Jeff's brother, who is suffering in a rocky marriage with Linda (Judy Greer) and has recently bought a Porsche in an attempt to make himself more happy, or normal, or something. On the surface, these are both pretty detestable guys.
Jeff is a 30-year old man who lives at home and gives his mother grief when she wants him to get off the couch and fix a door, which is made worse by the fact that it's her birthday and this is all she wants from her son. Pat is a giant tool who buys an expensive car without even telling his wife until after he had already bought it, and is constantly trying too hard to be liked and shove his success in the face of others. Instead of trying to explain their faults and make them more charming or make their flaws an excuse to create comedic situations, the Duplass brothers take on the more interesting approach of letting these flaws just be a part of the characters. That's just the way they are presented to us, and we have to accept them as these people.
Over the course of the film, their fates collide and they endure a surprisingly life-altering experience together, but the brothers don't allow their writing to ever betray who these characters are when we are first introduced to them. They never do anything that seems out of character, but rather they are constantly growing throughout the journey this film takes them on. We meet them at an important time in their life, and the writers make their progression through it seem surprisingly natural and organic.
What's most interesting about the film is the way that it tackles this theme of fate that Jeff becomes so obsessed with after watching Signs. It's a silly idea to hinge your film on, but the way it builds is truly remarkable to watch. Particularly when the film is over and they experience these life-changing events, you look back on it all and realize that everything had been building towards this. Every single moment in the film is a direct consequence of the one that came before it, and none of it ever would have happened if Jeff had never watched the movie Signs.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is written in such a fully realized and beautifully rendered way, I was borderline amazed when it ended and I looked back on the beginning of it. To take a film this honest and sincere and build it off the foundation that none of the events would have occurred if the main character hadn't watched the movie Signs, and have it not seem ridiculous, is something pretty special indeed.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home starts out by referencing a film from 10 years ago. The main character, Jeff, speaks about his love for the movie Signs. That movie was all about signs being sent to us and that we must use those signs as guides for living our lives. This becomes Jeff's mantra for how he lives his life. These signs haven't been getting him anywhere as of yet though. He's a grown-up slacker who still lives at home with his mother as the title of the film says. It's this bohemian free-spirited attitude that has led him to where he is. He seems at peace with things, yet something is missing from his life. His brother Pat is the opposite. He's married, has a job, and even just bought a new Porsche; he doesn't believe in slacking off like Jeff. That doesn't mean everything is going well for him though. He really didn't have the money to comfortably afford the Porsche and you can tell that his wife isn't happy about it. But Pat lives in the moment. While showing off the Porsche to Jeff, they see his wife with another man and start to suspect she's having an affair. Even though these two brothers don't generally get along and seem to despise each other a little, Jeff agrees to help Pat out and find out what's going on. Along the way, they begin to learn about each other and their different ways of approaching things. Pat always thought he had his life together and looked down on Jeff. Now's he realizing that maybe Jeff had a better way of looking at things. Jason Segel and Ed Helms play the 2 brothers and make the best of their roles. There's also an interesting sub-plot about what's going on with their mother (Susan Sarandon) at her job. The movie is part of a recent genre of film called "mumblecore" which generally have low budgets and focus more on the dialogue - sort of like a Quentin Tarantino film without the action. Luckily, the dialogue here is very good and holds your interest throughout. At less than an hour and half (which is very rare nowadays), it doesn't meander at all. It focuses on how we spend our days and seems to have a message of living more carefree. But there are plenty of laughs throughout the film which make it very enjoyable.
"You ever feel like your waiting for forever to find out what your destiny is and when you do it's not really that exciting?" After receiving a phone call from a wrong number Jeff (Segel) thinks that the call has a deeper reason. His mom (Sarandon) calls and asks him to run an errand for him. What starts as a simple trip to a hardware store begins to evolve and change the lives of everyone Jeff comes into contact with, including his brother Pat (Helms). This is another movie that is almost nothing like the preview. The preview made it seem much funnier then it was. While this did have some funny parts in it I found this movie to be more sweet and heartfelt then I expected. Some of the aspects of the movie are very serious but they are done in a way that tone it down. Segel is just about the perfect choice for this role because there is just something about him that you find disarming and comfortable no matter what he is doing. If you are looking for a typical Segel comedy this is not it. This one has more substance and heart and is very much worth watching. Overall, if you liked "Everything Must Go" then this movie is for you. I recommend this but this is again not your average comedy. I give it a B+.
This film is about a mother and her two adult sons, who experience
varying degrees of interpersonal problems.
The first half of the film portrays a socially awkward Jeff, with his newfound infatuation with anything to do with Kevin. It looks like a pothead comedy, which I do not usually enjoy. The mood of the second half changes dramatically, as the characters get emotionally complex. Their emotional wounds get explored, and the film becomes touching and engaging. The ending is well built and climactic, and I find myself very touched by the heroic events. How each family member found emotional attachment is beautiful to say the least.
Though "Jeff, Who Lives At Home" may be a little boring at first, it is worth watching as the last twenty minutes are excellent.
I pretty much knew I was going to dig JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME right from
the first scene, where Jeff sits on the toilet, and waxes poetically
into a tape-recorder about his undying love for the movie SIGNS. I tend
to like the Duplass Brothers, who wrote and directed, so I guess this
wasn't a hard sell.
At first glance, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME seems like a bit of a minor film, with it running a scant eighty-minutes, and taking course over a single day. Heck, for ninety-percent of the movie it was a minor work, and while I liked it, it still felt like a bit of a disappointment on the heels of CYRUS, which was one of my favorite films from last year. The film works mostly due to Jason Segel, who's affecting as the eternally optimistic Jeff. In another actor's hands, Jeff could have been insufferable- but Segel brings a sweetness to the part that meshes well with the Duplass Brother's big-hearted, humanist philosophy.
Like CYRUS, this owes a lot to the Duplass Bros., mumblecore origins, with it seemingly shot on lower-grade digital, possibly hand-held cameras, just like CYRUS. Some of the dialogue also seems to be improvised, with the exchanges between Segel and Ed Helms (who seems to be playing Andy Bernard with a goatee here- no complaints) having a natural, unscripted feel. The film also has a very nice score by Michael Andrews, heavily reminiscent of his excellent soundtrack for Miranda July's ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (the release of which remains the last time I bought a physical CD).
In terms of laughs, yeah- JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME is funny, but in a genteel sort of way. You'll never double over in laughter, but the whole thing feels pleasant, and at eighty minutes, goes down pretty smooth. Now, I said that for ninety-percent of the running time, this felt minor. The last twenty minutes or so throw the audience a bit of a curve-ball, with Jeff's idea of destiny having a surprisingly dramatic payoff, that pushed the film into territory I wasn't expecting. However, this switch isn't jarring, and works to the film's advantage, give it a uniqueness I wasn't anticipating.
There's also an interesting subplot involving Jeff and Pat's mom, played by Susan Sarandon, as she interacts with an office co-worker (Rae Dawn Chong of COMMANDO!!!), and deals with a secret admirer, which pays off in a fun, heart-warming way that, again, makes the film a little different- but in a good way.
All told, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME isn't quite as good as CYRUS, but it's a unique, pleasant comedy that once again proves that the Duplass Brothers., might be on to something with the way their films seem to simultaneously aim at the heart AND the funny bone.
This is another one of those independent films that will touch you and
you will cheer for it because it's not only heart touching and warming
it provides plenty of laughs along the way it's message and central
theme proves that one can discover life and make a connected difference
even when one is sheltered. And the cast and chemistry is well shown as
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" features veteran Susan Sarandon and up and
coming stars Ed Helms and Jason Segel and the work of all blend well
into a good picture.
Set in Louisiana it follows the life one day of Jeff a 30 year old live at home slacker stoner who doesn't have a job and beat it all he lives like the crypt keeper as he stays in the basement! The only thing keeping him going is his stash and TV watching and thinking about the world in the strangest ways only this slightly changes some when he meets up with his cocky and business type older brother Pat(Ed Helms)and Pat now suspects that wife Linda(Judy Greer)is having an affair. Aside from that the hard working mom of Pat and Jeff Sharon(Susan Sarandon)finds an unexpected and crazy surprise at work with her boss Carol(sexy 80's screen siren Rae Dawn Chong).
Thru it all this film showcases that a lot can occur in the lives of people during a day, some of it is just unexpected and crazy still it proves life is complex and a struggle and still love and happiness is possible. Most rewarding is seeing how in the film's end a sheltered character like Jeff can become a hero that shows life in some shape and form can be rewarding for all if you just come out explore, discover and take risk. Overall good film about the struggles of life, family, relationships and it shows life takes unexpected twist and turns.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is "the best day in the history of the whole world" a quote pulled
from brothers and main characters Jeff (Jason Segel) and Pat's (Ed
Helms) deceased father in a dream. And it just so happens to be the one
day in the life of Jeff in Paramount Pictures "Jeff Who Lives at Home"
who reconnects with his family on a human level on the same day.
Jeff is a character whom his family consisting of his mother Sharon, (Susan Sarandon) and brother Pat passes off as an underachiever to the extreme. Jeff lives in his mother's basement where the majority of his days are spent eating, smoking weed, and watching infomercials like the "incredible vitamin" and consistently searching for a sign to something greater to his seemingly detached existence. Jeff becomes obsessed for his signs of something greater after watching the alien invasion film "Signs" starring Mel Gibson, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin.
When Jeff gets an arbitrary sign through a phone call, it puts his world into an unexplainable focus to reaching his destiny while fighting-off the negative reactions from his brother and mother. The end result is a new view of Jeff as someone who is fearless, and open to seeing the world as it really is and not just as a spectator passing through it.
The signs may hold coincidence in Jeff's life, but for many they are always there. Just few are able to see them. "Jeff Who Lives at Home" is a meaningful story about what happens when you open yourself up to the unexpected and what you might gain by putting yourself in a vulnerable position. All too much is needlessly lost due to fear of consequences and what others might think. This life is your own and it IS what you make of it is the underlying message of the film.
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" is written and directed by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass. Their past films include shorts and a documentary (called "Kevin"). During a press conference, the duo talked about their unique way of making this film. They said that they fully lit each scene before the actors stepped onto the set. After that, the actors were free to improvise and play-out the scenes with each other. Mark stated that there were "no rehearsals on the film. We don't believe in the rehearsal process in this instance because you might lose something that you don't get (on film)." Mark also said that once the camera is rolling, they don't like to stop because "you lose the moment".
The movie was filmed in New Orleans, but the story takes place in Baton Rouge. Jeff's bravery rubs off on Sharon and Pat. Directors said that Jeff is a character that really sacrificed a lot by not getting a regular 9 to 5 job and getting married. "He is holding out for that grander that he knows he is meant for" said Duplass. This is something that is admirable and most people secretly wish that they could do according to film makers.
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" opens in limited theaters on Friday, March 16, 2012.
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
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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