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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 4: Jeff, Who Lives at Home


July 4: Jeff, Who Lives at Home

"Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife."
Directed by: Jay & Mark Duplass, Rated: R, 83 minutes

Honestly, I have never been the biggest fan of the Duplass brothers. I know there are a lot of people who find their movies (The Puffy Chair, Baghead, Cyrus) powerful and emotional, as they tend to hit home with a lot of the themes and situations that play out. However, I find their stuff to be very bloated with unnecessary subplots and too much focusing on the mundane, boring aspects of every day life. Sure, the later part is a nice attempt to make their films more realistic,  but the brothers tend to over exaggerate other aspects of their films (usually the endings), completely ruining any authenticity that was created. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is no exception from that notion, and while I did find it somewhat enjoyable, it really is a terribly flawed movie. 

But no matter how many times he looks like he smells funky, Jason Segel always looks huggable. 

The film follows Jeff (Jason Segel), a basement dweller who emerges from his "cave" to help his mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) by running to the store to get some wood glue. The way it is set up, you can assume Jeff doesn't leave the house too much and his Exodus into the real world proves to be a rather curious experience for him. Jeff is a man who feels there is meaning in everything and he takes it upon himself to find his "destiny" on his little errand run. After chasing after any notion of "Kevin", after a mysterious phone call leads him to believe there is meaning in the name, Jeff comes across his brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is just having a very bad day. The two see that Pat's wife, Linda (Judy Greer), is with another man, and the two find it as a reason to investigate, trying to figure out if Pat's wife is cheating on him. That's pretty much the basis for the film and Jeff's journey with his brother ends with a very melodramatic climax that feels completely unnecessary. You can't find your "destiny" in one day, and while Jeff's search at first is whimsical and cute, it becomes rather tedious and boring. Throw in an even more unnecessary romantic subplot for Sharon at her office, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home becomes an even bigger mess.

Cue dramatic rain. In an office. Just because they can.

One of the most surprising parts of Jeff, Who Lives at Home is Jason Segel's performance. For the most part, he's solid, even lingering a little out of his comedic comfort zone into a more dramatic role. While his acting is good, I only wished he had a stronger script to work with. Ed Helms adds a good presence as Pat, but there are only so many times he can play an oblivious man struggling with woman problems and hitting rock bottom before he "blooms" into a changed man. Susan Sarandon, although gorgeous as always, really adds absolutely nothing to the film but her name. Her subplot is incredibly out of place and the events that come out of her story add nothing to the film. The movie is called Jeff, Who Lives at Home, not, Jeff, Who Lives at Home with His Lonely Mother Who Just Wants to Find Love

I'd like to be home alone with her! Oh snap! Yes, I still find Susan Sarandon sexy. Deal with it. 

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is really nothing special and really has no point to it. The most noteworthy part of it is Jason Segel, and it's nice to see that he has what it takes to transition into more serious roles. I was really hoping that the movie would be a lot better than the final product and am sad to say it really doesn't deliver. The narrative is just too big of a mess that really tries to be something profound and life-changing. It's also worth mentioning that the cinematography is awful. It's as though the cameraman had no idea what he was doing, zooming in and out whenever he felt like it. Seriously, look for it, it's incredibly distracting. Skip Jeff, Who Lives at Home, or if you must see it, go in knowing that it's nothing worth leaving the basement for. 

The Good:
Jason Segel's performance, even though the script refuses to help his character be something more than a slacker/stoner destiny seeker
The Bad:
crappy camerawork that shakes and zooms like amateur footage you catch on the news after a disaster strikes
The Ugly:
Jay and Mark Duplass' continued effort to make worthwhile films based in reality that conclude in some of the sappiest, over-the-top ways

Overall: 5.8/10

Re-watch? No
Buy? Certainly not

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At July 8, 2012 at 2:30 AM , Blogger Tom Gooderson-A'Court said...

I wasn't a big fan of this film either. I found it boring and as you said, thought that the narrative was a mess. Nice review, and welcome to the LAMB!

At July 8, 2012 at 10:56 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Thank you! Yeah, I was really hoping this would have been much better. I read on imdb that throughout the entire premiere, the Duplass brothers actually cried. I don't understand why, as it is really, really lacking in emotion.


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