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.