A wrong call. A random stranger named Kevin. A broken door frame. These are the circumstances that set a slacker on his journey to fulfill his destiny in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the funny new comedy from Jay and Mark Duplass.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is an offbeat movie about a man-whose-name-will-go-unmentioned-here (Jason Segel) who has smoked too much weed and too little of anything else. But the movie isn't a stoner comedy. It's also about his brother Pat (Ed Helms), who suspects that his wife (Judy Greer) is cheating on him. But it isn't a romance, either. It's also about their cranky mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon), who has learned she has a secret admirer. Okay, it's a bit of a romance.
And yet it isn't.
Quirky, fun and creative, Jeff, Who Lives at Home outlines a series of common, nonessential events and brings them altogether to make something bigger than the pieces. Even though he-who-shall-not-be-named is a stoner, and lazy, and a bit of an idiot (or is he?), he's incredibly charming, the perfect counterbalance to the overly assertive and often rude Pat. Segel and Helms play off each other well, forming two fully realized characters in what amounts to just over 80 minutes of running time.
It's hard to describe exactly what kind of comedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home is. It's nothing like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or The Hangover, for which the two stars are known, nor does it feature the tame, awkward humor found in "The Office", for which Helms is also known. It's real life stirred up into a lighthearted but blisteringly relatable concoction, something like an "indie comedy" with sprinkles of mainstream.
You're welcome. I'm glad I could clear that up.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home does have one fault, and it lies with Susan Sarandon's storyline. What starts off as a quite charming, even alluring subplot, suddenly derails when her secret admirer is revealed. Her story already didn't fit within the context of the greater picture, but then it takes a turn for the strange, and then edges a bit further into unbelievable.
It's a shame, because the rest of the movie is so damned good.
Jason Segel and Ed Helms are great in their respective roles and Sarandon, even though her storyline is tacked on for filler, turns in a fine performance. Greer, as always, is good in what will be one of her many underappreciated roles. But it's the Duplass brothers who make everything work, in what is easily the best movie of their careers.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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