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We need to talk about Kevin
Star – Jason Segel
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 83 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – USA
Awards – 1 nomination
Amazon – £2.9800 DVD £22.98 Blue Ray
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The decadence of Hollywood and Americas love of movies means pretty much any old movie seems to get made over there. ‘Jeff Who Lives at Home’ is that movie. As long as they have a decent star on board (Jason Segel here) and the funding in place they give you ten million an doff you go. The current funding model is to concentrate on big budget Fantasy and Comic book movies to generate the mega profit and throw scraps to the smaller indie outfits to make their films. In 2015 just 51% of films made a profit. Jeff Who Lives at Home from the director and writing team of Mark and Jay Duplass brothers is one of those movies that didn’t, its $7.5m budget dragging just $4.5m back. Hollywood just make movies and then releases them and move on. It doesn’t seem to hurt the stars much if they don’t work or draw a crowd. They seem to have convinced the critics that La La Land is the greatest movie ever made with its record 14 nominations. But it’s an industry selling dreams and so unique when it comes to bookkeeping. The movie industry itself made $14.8 billion profit in 2015.
This vast industry allows for people like the Duplass brothers to keep making movies. The only one I have heard of is Cyrus, with John C Riley, which was similar to this one. The star, Jason Segel, is from the Judd Apatow Universe and did the terrible movie ‘Sex Tape’ and done a lot of those early middle aged romcoms, Forgetting Sarah Marshall his most well known effort.
• 11% of the movies made a profit equivalent to more than twice their original budget
• 11% made a profit equal to between 100% and 200% of their original budget
• 28% made a profit equal to less than their budget
• 34% lost the equivalent of less than their budget
• 9% lost between 100% and 200% of their production budget
• 7% lost more than twice the value of their original budget
Jason Segel ... Jeff
Ed Helms ... Pat
Susan Sarandon ... Sharon
Judy Greer ... Linda
Rae Dawn Chong ... Carol
Steve Zissis ... Steve
Evan Ross ... Kevin
30-year-old unemployed stoner Jeff (Segel) still lives at home with single mom Sharon (Sarandon) in her basement in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a bit spacey and spends his time looking for his destiny in seemingly random occurrences, mostly after smoking joint or two. He believes in films like ‘Signs’ and always on the lookout for strange coincidences and those signs in his life. When he answers the phone it's a wrong number, from somebody asking for "Kevin," and Jeff contemplates the meaning of this, deciding it's a sign and sets out to look for more Kevin’s.
Receiving yet another ultimatum from his mom to pull is finger out or leave home he is dispatched to buy wood glue to fix a door shutter in the house. Jeff jumps on a bus in a strop, where he sees a kid wearing a sports jersey bearing the name Kevin. He follows Kevin (Ross) to a basketball court, where he joins a B-ball game and the two click but tricked to an underpass and jumped and mugged by Kevin and his mates. Jeff is as vulnerable as he is gullible.
Beaten pride and a black eye he happens upon his obnoxious older brother and wannabe yuppie Pat (Ed Helms), struggling with a failing marriage but thinking that buying a Porsche will help that. But Pat is in a tizzy when he spots his wife Linda (Greer) across the street with another man. This is off the scale signs stuff for Jeff and soon explaining his theories to his dismissive brother.
Jeff is roped into Pats paranoia that his wife is cheating on him and decides to follow them for several hours, first to a restaurant and later to a hotel, totaling Pats beloved Porsche in the process. Jeff sees a truck reading "Kevin Kandy" and runs off to hitch a ride, only to end up at the same hotel where Pat has found Linda in a room with another man. It’s now clear to Jeff the stars are realigning and something very special is happening today even though it doesn’t feel like it. It’s also been an interesting day for mom Sharon, a mysterious lothario in the office sending her romantic messages over the in-house computer system. What has fete in store for her?
I had decent hopes for this one as the dustcover is stamped with approving film festival rosettes and broadsheet quotes and a decent comic cast in the lineup. Then when I see it only had one film nomination and mixed reviews on Rottentomatoes.com I realized this one had not live dup to its expectation. It’s OK and I can see why the Duplass boys went with their screenplay concept but Segel is miscast as the loser and you scratch your head why am emancipated behemoth like Susan Sarandon is in a film like this playing such an innocuous comic role.
Segel is OK in the lead but just too big and striking looking to be a realistic loser. Ed helms character is slightly over-the-top and no real brother chemistry with Segel’s character the film needed. There are no belly laughs and soon falling into that melancholy ennui indie comedy genre we see a ton of films in from America. It’s almost like the film volume over there has to meet actor demand rather than the other way around it and how it should be. That can only affect the comedy. It’s a film that’s been made because the pieces are in place and so why not make it?
Imdb.com – 6.5/10.0 (56,840votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 78% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 60% critic’s approval
-Behind the Scenes-
Predicable stuff as the cast & crew talk about the film they have just made and try to convince us we have seen a profound movie, which we haven’t.
It’s an Apatow graduate so lots of improv and messing around on set.
Financial Times –‘A squandering of space, time and actor/part-time screenwriter Jason Segel, last seen revivifying the Muppets’.
Total Film –‘Cool cast, hip directors, but a movie that's less than the sum of both. Like its title character, Jeff is gentle, warm but a little forgettable’.
The List –‘A film that shares the main qualities of its hero: it's hard to dislike, but it doesn't get much done’.
Deadspin –‘The movie creeps up on you, and it's not until its firecracker ending that you realize just how much it made you care about these people’.
Big Hollywood –‘.Lacking compelling characters, this comedy never fully works as a cohesive whole’.
The Patriot Leger –‘True to their trademark vérité style, the Duplass siblings make the humdrum hum with low-key panache, as they consistently find beauty and truth in everyday occurrences’.
Las Vegas news –Jeff, Who Lives at Home offers escapism of a different kind, an entertaining reminder that good people sometimes prevail, and that living by your own Yoda logic in your own universe may not be such a bad thing’.
I came across this whilst browsing but don't recall much being said about it when it was released earlier this year. The reviews seemed so-so but I didn't read too much in to it, I just expected something fairly easy to watch that may have some kind of moral heart-warmingness at the end of it. Whilst it wasn't anything spectacular, it was indeed easy to watch and I enjoyed the characters, so I'd recommend giving it a go if you want something with a bit of warmth under the surface and a few chuckles along the way.
Jeff Who Lives At Home was directed and written by Jay and Mark Duplass who have worked on several things between them but nothing that I seem to really recognise. The film, I would say, is probably a bit of a drama comedy; the cast suggests comedy whilst the premise suggests a mix of lightheartedness with something more thought-provoking. We're introduced to Jeff, a slacker in his own right that's living in his mother's basement at the age of 30. Living at home at that age these days doesn't seem all that unusual but the difference is he doesn't seem to really want to do anything with his life, after all, why try to find a job when you can get high and watch TV all day in your PJs?
Jeff is actually looking for something though, he's just not very proactive about it. He seems to be waiting for a sign, for something to suggest where his life is going and what he should do. He just has to wait until he sees it. Meanwhile, his mother is working and getting frustrated by the fact that Jeff can't even go out to buy glue and fix a slat in the kitchen cupboard door. Unsure what else to do, she turns to Pat, her other son. Pat is doing well for himself it seems, being a sales man with a wife and looking at getting a flashy new car despite not necessarily being able to afford it. The two brothers seem to be worlds apart in the stages of their lives and their personalities, with Jeff being quite sensitive and down to earth, whilst Pat is rather self-centred and looking out for himself in life.
The two brothers cross paths when Jeff spots a sign, a wrong number call for a guy called 'Kevin'. Jeff then takes any path he sees that leads him to a Kevin. He bumps in to Pat and they have an awkward reunion, followed by more awkwardness when they discover that Pat's wife may be having an affair. Keen to get to the truth, the two brothers forge a rather haphazard investigation.
I won't say any more on the premise except to say that each character, including Jeff, his mum, Pat and his wife, seem to get their own mini storyline, with each then criss-crossing and coming together by the end of the film. It's a film about the every day things, like jobs and money and relationships, and also deeper things like what's important in life. I enjoyed the fact that this explored the notion of some sort of sign or enlightenment for Jeff to be able to get on with his life, and I did find his situation and outlook on life quite heart-warming.
This film had quite a down to earth appeal to it because whilst it had some good names in the cast, it wasn't too shiny or over the top Hollywood. In fact, it was rather simplistic and this made it more realistic to watch, being able to appreciate the characters because they're more believable. I would say that if you don't quite 'get it' the first time around, perhaps because you weren't in the frame of mind to appreciate the more drama-related elements, then it's worth a second watch to fully appreciate the acting, the story underneath the surface and for it to make you think and reflect on it. I like films that do that because it draws you in and gets you thinking, but not too hard and nor did it leave me feeling depressed (which some more 'thought-provoking' films can do!).
The premise wasn't anything too extreme or original either, but again, I quite enjoyed that because it was more relatable that way. What happened during each character's journey was interesting in its own right because the amount of misunderstandings and wrongly placed judgements made it comical. It was also thought-provoking in the sense that it's a flick about what's important in life, how each person sees and understands the world in their own way, and how sometimes it's funny how things work out the way they do. Perhaps there is a reason for everything, or perhaps we need to learn to see the reason and the lesson in everything, otherwise we wonder through life without our eyes truly open. I didn't, however, think the film was a hard sell. The drama elements and 'morals' to the story, if you will, weren't too in your face. The warmer side underneath the comedy was fairly subtle and these undertones helped to make the film a little more three dimensional and memorable.
The cast included Jason Segal (Jeff), Ed Helms (Pat), Judy Greer (Linda) and Susan Sarandon (Sharon) amongst others. I tend to enjoy Segal and Helms in films so I thought they were amusing to watch and did a great job in their respective roles. Sarandon added a bit of extra class and also helped to broaden the audience a little more; I wouldn't say this is really aimed at anyone in particular in the sense that it seems to appeal to both guys and girls, in their 20s or 50s, because there's a little something for everyone.
The downsides? It lacked a little oomph in parts perhaps, where the script could have been wittier or more outrageous to make it more memorable. It may also disappoint a little if you're expecting something highly amusing that will burn 200 calories an hour through laughter. Some parts were funny and entertaining, it it's not slapstick funny or necessarily hearty laugh-out-loud material. I didn't mind this because I still found it enjoyable and interesting enough to watch that I finished the film feeling a little lighter and more refreshed. As I've said, some of that was thanks to the cast, in particular Segal and Helms.
All in all, this is one I would recommend as a more understated little gem. It's not my usual kind of film but I quite enjoyed it. Okay so I didn't rave about it afterwards or think it would win awards, but it was amusing and easy to watch with a good cast and subtly emotive premise.
DVD released 2012, running time 80 minutes, rated Certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £9.49