Jeff, Who Lives at Home, directed by Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus, Nights and Weekends), tells the story of Jeff (believe it or not)- played by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets)- a man in his thirties struggling to understand his “destiny” whilst living in his mother’s (Susan Sarandon) basement. Finding it difficult to persuade Jeff to even simply clean the gutters, his mother calls on brother Pat (Ed Helms) to reach out to Jeff with the hopes of making a breakthrough. Though Jeff may not have a job, a wife, or a Porsche like Pat, he seems to have a connection to the cosmos of the universe- paying attention to signs such as recurring names and numbers and following his heart. On this particular day, these signs have led the brothers to discovering a strange, secret relationship that has formed between Pat’s wife and an unknown man. In order to get to the bottom of this, however, Pat and Jeff will have to act like true brothers: something they haven’t done in a long time. Will the duo solve of this mystery? Will they strangle each other in the meantime? Will Jeff climb out of this ditch of dawdling despair?
The Duplass brothers are known (at least by myself) for creating real comedies. No explosions; no unrealistic, wacky characters; they direct films for us, about us. As a result of this, we find ourselves far more emotionally drawn to the characters of their films than to say, the characters of Anchorman (though a thoroughly enjoyable slapstick comedy). The film begins with an audio journal, spoken by the title character, about his thoughts on the film Signs and how he believes there are signs everywhere if you open your mind to them. Much like the film Signs, Jeff, Who Lives at Home comes full circle, with many laughs and heartfelt moments along the way. Regardless of which character you relate to most, the pathos and wide range of personality in this film will cling to something deep inside you and make investing your time and attention for ninety minutes not only enjoyable, but a necessity. With films such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakwal and Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star out there, it’s great when films like Jeff show up and remind me that not every project is solely a paycheck, and some films were written and directed with a love for story-telling. I paid for a movie, and I left the theater- credits rolling behind me- with a new pep in my walk for free. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is an ideal cinematic experience, earning 4 stars in my book.