Review: Jeff, Who Lives At Home
PLOT: While hanging out at home in his mom's basement, Jeff is sent to go buy wood glue for a broken cabinet. On his way to the store, he feels he is given some sort of sign for something big, something better than what he is doing. Abandoning his plans for the store, he goes on his own adventure. Along the way, he runs into his brother who is having issues with his wife. All the while their mother is having her own awakening back at her job. It is a day in the life of a pot smoking dude like Jeff who searches for meaning… and he very well may find it.
REVIEW: Jeff (Jason Segel) is a thirty-year old, pot smoking slacker. He likes getting high a whole lot. He holds belief that the M. Night Shyamalan feature film SIGNS is a masterpiece with numerous meanings and revelations. And he also lives at home with his mother (Susan Sarandon). What is most extraordinary about Jeff is that he is not bitter or angry and he seems to believe in the goodness of people. Sure he is a bit of a loser in the sense that he doesn’t hold a job and he isn’t really good for doing chores around the house, but his heart is absolutely pure. It is Segel who gives Jeff such an immense likability. You can’t help but feel a little something for him and his journey to find meaning is his life.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME follows Jeff on his quest to get wood glue for his mother. It is a simple task indeed. He has to get on the bus, go to the store and get the glue. Yet something calls to him, especially since the name Kevin is ingrained into his brain after receiving a wrong number phone call. While getting on the bus, he decides to follow a young man with the name "Kevin" on the back of his basketball jersey. Soon, he is on his own personal adventure, one which leads him to a re-discovery of his family, and even his own meaning. This is a surprisingly touching lesson, yet it is his family who seems to learn the most.
While on his mission, Jeff discovers things about his brother Pat (Ed Helms) and his wife Linda (Judy Greer). Their mother Sharon (Sarandon) also has her own awakening, yet it is slightly predictable and sometimes feels out of step with rest of the film. No matter though, Sarandon is absolutely charming as the frustrated mother who finds she has a secret admirer at her work. It is also nice to see the incredibly talented Rae Dawn Chong as Sharon’s co-worker Carol.
Mark and Jay Duplass have crafted an affecting drama with shades of comedy. Much like CYRUS, the story revolves around flawed people trying to relate to others who are just as dysfunctional. However with JEFF, there is a sense of heart that wasn’t nearly as sincere in their previous effort. This may be due to the fact that there is not a single actor working today that could have played Jeff as beautifully as Jason Segel. He is sympathetic no matter what he does. He is never whiny, irritating or obnoxious… well, maybe a little bit to his mother, but not to the audience. Taking this story and telling it through such an everyman perspective like Jeff makes for a truly endearing story.
Sure Segel is perfection in the title role, yet all the performances here are incredibly natural. Helms has the most difficult task as he is the one character that is hard to warm up to. He is an annoying lout for the first part of the film, yet as you’d expect, he is given the chance to grow. The relationship between him and Greer is just golden. They both have impeccable timing and their strained marriage is all the more touching because of it. How the three stories intertwine make for a heartfelt – if implausible – finale that may feel a tad sentimental, however it works.
Mark and Jay – who also wrote the script – tell what is ultimately a warm-hearted statement on family and life itself. Jeff represents a generation looking for meaning, and Segel covers this terrain perfectly. Would it have worked nearly as well without him? Probably not, because thanks to his work here, it is a reminder that sometimes innocence and naivety are still important in life. JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME is certainly good company to keep, especially thanks to its just over eighty minute running time.