CliqueClack Flicks

Jeff, Who Lives at Home will make you want to stop being such a cynical jerk

Jeff, Who Lives at Home - Theater Review
Release Date: 03/16/2012 - MPAA Rating: R
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

Jason Segel shines as an affable pothead trying to find his destiny in 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home.'

I hate potheads as a rule. They’re smelly, annoying, and seem to be way too fixated on food. I also have very little patience for grown-ass adults who refuse to take care of themselves, so I wasn’t exactly inclined to root for the titular character in Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Luckily, loveable Sasquatch Jason Segel was cast in the role, so it quickly becomes impossible to wish anything but happiness and success for him.

Tasked by his beleaguered mother (Susan Sarandon) to get out of the basement and buy some wood glue, the unemployed Jeff embarks on a seemingly pointless pothead journey spurred by a wrong number, in which the caller is trying to find someone named Kevin. He quickly becomes fixated on the mythical Kevin, deciding that the phone call is actually fate speaking to him.

Jeff, despite being 30, has managed to hang on to his child-like belief in everything having a meaning and working out in the end. This propels him into his personal quest for his destiny, which is of course filled with the requisite misadventures and a misfit cast of characters.

Jeff’s main foil in the film is his polar-opposite brother, Pat, played by Ed Helms. While at first Helms seems to be playing a version of his clueless Office character, Andy Bernard, those comparisons quickly disappear when the film dives into the dynamic between the two brothers.

Instead of making Pat the uptight, douchey counter to the free-wheeling Jeff, the film does an admirable job of making Pat into a flawed, yet relatable character. Behind the shitty goatee and the ill-advised Porche (complete with driving gloves), is a guy who has just let his life get away from him in the way that so many people do.

It is in this realization that he’s lost his way when the film really shines. Confronted with the possibility of his wife cheating on him, Pat and his wife, Linda, played by the always-amazing Judy Greer, have a fight that’s so well-written, it’s sure to send a large chunk of the audience into bad relationship PTSD.

That’s not to say that the film is solely grounded in reality. This is not a brutal study in relationships and lives gone wrong. Instead, Jeff, Who Lives at Home manages to find a nice balance of relatability and whimsy that is often elusive in film and television. There are certainly times where it feels like the film is going to delve into the deep, dark sea of indie film quirk, but it mostly manages to keep its head above water (with nary a precocious child in sight!).

In fact, the characters are so relatable, and the performances are so strong, that you find yourself going along with things that you ordinarily wouldn’t: Sarandon’s character has a way over-simplified life change toward the end of the film, but she plays it so honestly that it actually seems plausible. Segel does such a brilliant job of quietly making you love Jeff, that you accept him fully despite his myriad flaws and stay on board with him, even through the film’s highly unrealistic conclusion. Though I still can’t figure out why in a film set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, there isn’t a single person who speaks with anything approaching a Louisiana accent.

Clocking in at a quick 83 minutes, Jeff, Who Lives at Home serves as a brief reminder that while you may not know what your destiny will be, sometimes just looking outside of yourself and deciding to help make someone you love happy is enough to get your life back on track — even if it just means buying some wood glue.

Photo Credit: Paramount

One Response to “Jeff, Who Lives at Home will make you want to stop being such a cynical jerk”

March 20, 2012 at 8:52 AM

I’m a fan of director Mark Duplass (who also stars on The League), so I’ve been tempted to check this one out.

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