Home > Movies > JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME – Movie Review

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME – Movie Review

I was a big fan of the 2010 entry from directors Mark and Jay Duplass, Cyrus.  The dramedy really hit home with its authentic blend of comedy and drama, something the Mumblecore film subgenre, which the Duplass brothers pioneered, is known for.  Their new film, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, has a bigger budget and equally big stars (Cyrus starred John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill), however it still retains the sense of heart and personal filmmaking the Mumblecore genre is all about.

The film follows Jeff (Jason Segel), a thirty-something who still lives in his mother’s basement.  However, he has a philosophy that everything in the world happens for a reason, and that if he follows the signs, he will achieve his true destiny.  His brother, Pat (Ed Helms), is struggling to keep his marriage together, and his mother (Susan Sarandon), a widow, continues to get anonymous Instant Messages at her work from a secret admirer.  These three stories intersect, as the film captures one day in these three characters’ lives.

One of the key reasons Jeff, Who Lives at Home is so successful is because of how authentic and real everything is presented.  Sure some of the characters may be far-fetched in real life, but within the film, they are treated with depth, emotion, and heart, letting us buy into them the entire way through.  Each scene and situation has weight and realism, a rarity with many films today.

The performances across the board are great, especially Segel and Helms.  The two of them of course pull off the comedic scenes well, as that is their specialty, but the more impressive feat is their dramatic moments.  They’re subtle, raw, and real in those scenes, and show mature sides to their acting abilities we’re not used to seeing.

The film’s issues really only stem from the third act of the film, specifically how Susan Sarandon’s storyline is handled.  Without spoiling anything, the final scene with her in her office building is a callback to a motive of her character from earlier in the film.  While I appreciate them for trying to bookend that motive, they portray it in a heavy-handed, on-the-nose way, unfortunately losing the sense of realism the film has otherwise.

Overall, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a sweet, funny movie with well-developed characters and great performances.  Granted it’s only mid-March, but it’s my favorite film of 2012 so far.

FINAL RATING: 4/5

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  1. March 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I didn’t know that much about this film but due to your review, I’ll check it out. I’ll also check out Cyrus. Thanks.

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