Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement) plays Jeff, a 30 year old stoner who still lives at home with his mother (Susan Sarandon) obsessed with the movie Signs and constantly looking for purpose and meaning in everyday life. Jeff’s routine is changed one day when the phone rings, with an angry voice asking for ‘Kevin’. Rather than accepting the call as a wrong-number, Jeff sees ‘Kevin’ as a sign, and goes out in search for answers.
Meanwhile, Jeff’s brother Pat (Ed Helms, The Hangover) is having relationship problems with wife Linda (Judy Greer, The Descendants) whom he suspects of having an affair. Chaos ensues, as Jeff and Pat run into each other constantly, as they tail their respective suspects, and Jeff continues to take every coincidence as a sign – much to the annoyance of his brother.
In the background, a sub-plot involving Sarandon and a secret admirer at her office, turns into a beautiful tale of love and friendship, opening the audience’s mind to love after widowhood, and presenting a relationship which is totally unexpected, but completely fitting given the situation.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a funny and sometimes intelligent look into the lives of this dysfunctional family, raising questions about motherhood, as well as Jeff’s compulsion to see meaning in every aspect of life. The story moves along at a reasonable pace, with plenty of time for laughs, and we learn a lot about the relationships between the characters: something which is often lacking in mainstream comedy.
The only real downside to the movie has to be the camera work. Directors Jay and Mark Duplass have clearly watched too much Cyrus and likewise overused the infamous jerky/zoom Bourne technique of filming, which is very distracting, and adds little to the action or story taking place.
Aside from this directing faux-pas, the movie is brilliantly paced and edited, leaving plenty of room for the great ensemble cast to shine through. Segel is particularly entertaining in his role, as well as surprising: at times delivering philosophical lines of dialogue, and really making us believe that he is hopelessly trapped within his world of conspiracy theories and signs. Sarandon is equally adept as mother Sharon, and conveys her emotions with little explanation; her face says it all.
Written and directed by the Duplass brothers, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a wonderfully funny and poignant film, and taking place over the course of one eventful day, exposes us to family relationships and problems in a very open and entertaining manner, with a brilliant supporting cast.