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Jeff, Who Lives at Home


Happy New Year! Hope everyone has started the year off right.

JeffWhoLivesatHomePoster

What’s the most frightening thing you’ve ever done? For many people, this question is answered with something obvious like jumping out of a plane with nothing but a blanket that supposedly slows you down. Yet, the most genuine answer for practically every person is: making a decision based on a gut feeling and having no idea how it will turn out. Just follow what you think is right. That’s frightening for some people because it deviates from the normal process of weighing options and making measured decisions. As we see from Jeff, Who Lives at Home, sometimes taking the proverbial leap is worth it.

Grade:

B

Thirty-year-old Jeff (Jason Segel) is asked to leave the basement of his mother’s house to run an errand. Along the way he meets up with his brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is currently in a semi-mid-life crisis and cannot see eye-to-eye with his wife Linda (Judy Greer). Meanwhile, their mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) is celebrating her birthday trying to unmask a workplace secret admirer.

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Jeff is indie to the bone. The trailer has the whimsical melodies of some band you’ve probably never heard of, and the story is heartfelt but gloomy. The characters are stuck in their respective ruts and generally miserable despite good lives. Jeff gets to sit at home all day smoking weed and watching Signs, but he has no direction. Pat has a wonderful wife who he treats like a lesser being and can’t figure out why he’s unhappy (I swear, Judy “forever the slighted wife/mistress” Greer needs a better manager!!). Sharon is simply having trouble moving on since the passing of her husband. Basically, the family cannot figure out what is preventing happiness from being present in their lives.

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What’s odd, though, is that this overly dramatic storyline works. The cast works very well together, as Helms and Segel convincingly portray brothers who have almost nothing in common. Meanwhile, the writer/director Duplass brothers (Cyrus) seem to know how to write an indie comedy. They have a way of writing a solid story with good characters. It’s all a little contrived, but you can sense the care that was taken in writing this story—they supposedly cried the entire time at the premier—and it washes away the pretentious layer that naturally appears when viewing an indie film.

Maybe I was in the right mood at the right time needing an uplifting story after watching the pilot of American Horror Story. Maybe I needed a reality check to be happier and follow my gut with more decisions. Maybe we all need that. Who’s to say? Maybe you should just follow the signs and give Jeff, Who Lives at Home a try. Maybe you’ll enjoy it.

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