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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