Wednesday, March 14, 2012
REVIEW: Jeff, Who Lives At Home
NOTE: THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON OCTOBER 31, 2011 FOR THE PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL
Who would imagine that Jason Segal, that naked comedian from 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' could smoke weed and actually act all in the course of 83 minutes? If you're as amazed as I am, then you should check out his new movie 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home,' which is being released in March of next year. This dark comedy also stars Ed Helms of 'The Hangover' as Jeff's brother Pat and the always great Susan Sarandon as their mother. Jeff is a thirty something slacker who lives in his mother's basement and is still looking for his purpose in life. Pat is a "successful" businessman who can't even see that his marriage is slowly falling apart, even when she dumps her morning breakfast on a brand new/expensive Porsche. After receiving a mysterious phone call looking for a man named "Kevin," Jeff believes that he is about to find his destiny, even though he might be under a heavy influence of weed throughout. Pat tags along for this ride, and soon finds out that his wife may be cheating on him.
There was no way to know whether the film was going to be good or not, mainly because the only things that have been released to market the film is two photos. Still, this was screened four months in advance and without a rating, so I took my chances. Luckily enough, 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home' lives up to its hilarious title. The film is funny as hell, while also very sweet and poignant in which it may tug at your heartstrings a little. 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home' may be the sweetest and most poignant film to come out in 2012, which is nothing short of a bad thing.
Jason Segal is now trying to be in a drama while at the same time make some hilarious jokes. Because of the dramatic aspect, Segal gives the best performance of his career so far. The character Segal plays, a stoned thirty something living at home waiting for destiny to come his way, is somewhat like Seth Rogen's character in '50/50,' though not as obnoxious. Jeff isn't looking to settle down or even score with a few chicks, unlike Rogen's character. Jeff is the type of guy you'd actually want to hang out with or just smoke a joint with. Despite being a slacker with a love for weed, you can relate to Jeff's situation. Jeff is simply looking for his destiny after getting "Kevin's" phone call, and in some ways the other supporting players in the film are looking for their destiny as well, and that is shown very well because of the fine supporting characters. However while the other performances are good, they could not live up to Segal's fantastic performance.
Everyone in life has their own destiny, whether it's top of the world or bottom of the slumps. 'Jeff, Who Lives At Home' depicts that sublimely, though not being as fantastic as it could have been. Sure I laughed a lot and the drama was effective, but there was one plot line that I felt was unnecessary to the storyline except for the very end of the film. This storyline involves Susan Sarandon, Jeff's mother in the film, dealing with her own work problems throughout. Her subplot quickly becomes predictable as the story progresses, which I had a problem with because I like surprises in my movies. I'm not going to say what this plot was about because of its March release, but I'm just going to leave it at that saying that her plot line was my least favorite thing about the film. However my father did say to me after I told him this (paraphrasing here) "But Zach if that didn't happen than she wouldn't be there at the end and everything wouldn't have been what it was." That may be true dad, but it just didn't add anything to me.
‘Jeff, Who Lives At Home' is not a fantastic movie, but you will laugh your ass off and (if you have a heart) cry at points. The performances are really good, the story is well thought of, and The Duplass Brothers are now on my list of directors to keep my eye out for in the future. It's going to be very interesting to see how Paramount and Indian Paintbrush market this movie, because it's very hard to categorize this in a specific category. Should this be released as an indie for art houses to host, or should Paramount go wide release and hope for the best? I'd say go wide, mainly because this film will be popular amongst 'The Office' fans. What I mean by that, besides Ed Helms being in this, is that the film's similar camera shots, quirkiness and documentary like feel helps fans of the popular Steve Carell show enjoy themselves a lot in this fairly short film. 'Jeff' may last only 83 minutes, but you may come out of this surprised and heartfelt by how good this goofy premise turned out to be. This may not come out until March, but 'Jeff' is something you may want to put onto your calendars soon. But sorry kids, this will undoubtedly be an R rated film, but just for language and drugs. If your parents let you see this movie, I guarantee that you will be laughing before the opening credits even starts, because of an awesome opening monologue given by Jeff about the Mel Gibson movie 'Signs.' Do I really have to say much more?