[message_box]Why I Saw It: Invited to a press screening, and enjoy an exploration about facing life and what it takes to do so effectively.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
What I Thought: [Time Well Spent] Insightful and engaging, charms with a gentle Cyrus-meets-The Descendants vibe.
. Dir. Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass. Perf. Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong. Paramount Vantage, 2012.
A emotionally arrested man who refuses to leave his exasperated mother’s nest spends a day helping his brother shadow the brother’s apparently adulterous wife, leading to epiphanies for all involved.
Ed Helms despairs of correcting Jason Segel's cosmology / Photo: Paramount Vantage
Writer/director brothers Jay and Mark Duplass continue their signature examination of men with intimacy issues, here in the form of one who won’t leave the nest, another who won’t formally take up residence in the one he’s built, and their mother, who is trying to make sense of the third age while exasperated and baffled by both.
Eminently more engaging than The Puffy Chair, substantially less unsettling than Cyrus (though unsettling ain’t necessarily a bad thing…), Jeff is a sincere, genuine exploration of meaning and destiny: Is life fated? Laissez le bon temps rouler? Something to be sought and found only with earnest? And what, when it finally shows up, does it look like? Will we recognize it, or miss it to our lasting regret?
The Duplass’ strengthen with each successive film, and Jeff hits most cylinders just fine, making for an entertaining and whimsical outing. It does, however, suffer from their tendency to formulate a constructed character and lay upon him/her certain Life Issues without building any real dimension; that said, this time we do get an improved sense of who our new friends are.
Additionally, it would have increased believability to have Jeff be several years younger; Susan Sarandon’s character is well-adjusted in general, and her patience (unlike that of Cyrus’ dysfunctional, enmeshed mama bear) would have been exhausted long before her pothead basement-dweller turned thirty.
Still, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is well worth one’s time and provides plenty of laughs along its way, one really can’t go wrong. Enjoy!