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Remember, this is just my personal opinion!
The shows listed are in no particular order:
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME - 7.5/10.
I can honestly admit that prior to watching this film I was expecting a half-hearted attempt at a wannabe-indie-comedy; this is only because there had not been much buzz around it here in the UK so I foolishly assumed that it was one to miss. I could not have been more wrong. This film has more heart than any film I have seen in a while and it truly is beautiful.
The main reason I did decide to watch this film was the seemingly impressive cast, namely the two lead actors that are Jason Segel and Ed Helms, both of whom have delivered extraordinary performances in the past. First of all who better to play a slacking yet lovable pothead than Jason Segel and he does it with such grace on this particular occasion that when it comes to the second half of the film you almost forget entirely the fact that his character, Jeff, was essentially down and out from the film's inception. Then you have Ed Helms' character Pat who you are forced to dislike within mere minutes of being introduced. From the outset Pat is impulsive and inconsiderate which immediately provides an exquisite conflict between the two dominating personalities in Jeff, Who Lives at Home.
Essentially there are three different plots running at the same time here, the first being the most prominent which is Jeff and Pat's mission to uncover the secrets of Pat's wife, Linda (played by Judy Greer) and her affair. Surprisingly I actually felt that this storyline was the weakest in terms of meaningfulness despite being the most entertaining but I think that this is mainly due to the fact that it got the most attention from the writers as it is the fundamental basis for the other two plots. There really isn't much to comment on here apart from the fact that this is the storyline that generates the most laughs; mainly from seeing Ed Helms run around with a strained expression on his face as he tries to track down his wife (or Porsche, whichever seems more appealing at the time) while Jeff trails behind still half-stoned.
The second plot is the alarmingly touching sub-storyline of Jeff and Pat's mother Sharon (played extremely well by Susan Sarandon) and her 'secret admirer'. This took me by absolute surprise because it is just so far from what we would have expected to happen in a scenario like this. The easy way out would have been to provide Sharon with a strapping middle-aged role model to act as a father figure for Jeff and Pat however it becomes evident that the Duplass (Jay and Mark - Directors/Writers) brothers don't like taking the easy way out and I can't praise them enough for that. The turn that this particular plot takes is so fantastic that spoiling it for you would be a sin in my eyes you'll just have to go and see it for yourselves.
Finally we have Jeff's ongoing personal struggle to try and discover his destiny in life. This is introduced to us as soon as the film starts where Jeff ponders the film Signs (M. Night Shyamalan's multi-million dollar blockbuster starring Mel Gibson) whilst poised in a majestic fashion on the toilet whilst trying to figure out what his future might have in store for him and how he can use signs to help him find it. This plot is just sort of dragged through the whole film while the first two take the spotlight however it is in the final 10 minutes or so where you are once again swept off your feet. At risk of saying too much I will stop now as I really can't do it justice with words.
All three of these plots are equally engaging and perfectly written. The reason I believe these are perfectly written is because when all of these plots come together at the end of the film it makes your heart warm! It is absolutely astounding the effect that the Duplass brothers manage to induce onto their viewers with this movie! It is certainly not as dark natured as Cyrus (2010 release from the Duplass brothers, stars Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly) but in my opinion it is a lot more developed in terms of script and character development, it is also a hell of a lot more engaging.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is marketed as a comedy. While it certainly does contain some comedic value I would say that this film is essentially a drama, and a very good one. If you were, like me, expecting a comedy please do not be put off because I guarantee that you won't be let down by this movie as it is in my virtually impossible to dislike. I may go as far to call this the most likable movie of 2011.
WANDERLUST - 5/10.
Being as I am more than fond of both Judd Apatow (Producer) and Paul Rudd (Lead Actor/Co. Producer) I was extremely eager to watch Wanderlust but came out of it disappointed and honestly quite shocked by the fact that Apatow had produced something so mediocre!
That being said I did laugh in this film on quite a few occasions actually, in particular the mirror scene which was to say the least hilarious. In my opinion it was these rare moments of overstated humour and light satire which made the film bearable. Another strong point is the running time; thankfully this film doesn't drag on too much to the point where it becomes tedious.
Rudd is consistently brilliant in nearly every release he has been in and Wanderlust is certainly no exception, but the person that stole the show for me personally was Joe Lo Truglio as Wayne the nudist novelist. I feel that in previous films Truglio has shined, never having a large part but still managing to have a huge impact on the overall humour of a film, notable examples are Kuzzick in Role Models (also alongside Rudd and director David Wain) and my personal favourite Lonnie in I Love You, Man (again, alongside Rudd). I feel that Truglio has this same effect in Wanderlust and that he played one of the more likable and overall interesting characters amongst a cast that is generally dull.
Jennifer Aniston tries. Everything she does in this film comes off as a bit too eccentric, for example the weird acid trip she has just felt awkward and kind of unnecessary. The only thing that the does to a truly good standard is playing the 'un-employed go-getter living in the midst of a bustling Manhattan' but to be fair this sort of role has got to be second nature for her. Frankly the more in-your-face kind of comedy is a little out of Aniston's comfort zone and this does show a bit in Wanderlust.
A lot of other reviews are advising you not to watch it but I disagree based on the fact that you could definitely do a lot worse. You should especially watch this if you enjoyed Wain's Wet Hot American Summer being as both films share a light form of satire. Wanderlust does not match Wet Hot American Summer in terms of overall comedy but I feel that the two are still comparable. Sure, nothing in Wanderlust is worth writing home about (apart from maybe the mirror scene which truly is, hilarious) and it is fairly forgettable but if you are ever in the mood for something light-hearted not to be taken too seriously kind of film then you can't go wrong with Wanderlust.
Intriguing thought provoker about a Jarhead who got lost on the way to college...
JARHEAD - 8/10.
First of all I'm not a massive fan of war films. Sure I loved Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket etc. but honestly films like Pearl Harbour and Black Hawk Down have never seemed appealing to me personally, no idea why. The only reason I watched Jarhead was because of a recommendation from a friend and it far exceeded my expectations.
This is not an action film. There are bits that have small action elements to them but Jarhead is not full of explosions and gunfights by the minute. If you are a fan of 'high-octane' action films please do not be put off by this. I cannot stress enough how the fact that just because this isn't a fast paced film means that it is boring. Jarhead is far from boring.
The reason I enjoyed it so much is the fact that (possible spoiler ahead) the heroes were not actually heroes; they did not get a big battle at the end and they far from went out with a bang. Even someone who isn't a Jarhead like myself understands that this is the reality of war and I think the writers embrace that. That being said some parts of this film really start to make you think and chances are you will be put out of your comfort zone with some of the emotions you feel during this film because there is such a perfect blend between the comedy and drama, you will feel disturbed, you will feel excited and you will be moved.
The acting is very good, not ground-breaking but Jake Gyllenhaal does a good job at breaking down when he needs to. To summarise Gyllenhaal plays a Jarhead by the (nick)name of Swoff and the film is really a psychological journey through his time in the marines and how he deals with various scenarios - good and bad.
If you, like me are a fan of well-crafted films that make you feel then Jarhead is for you.