Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
Dir: Mark Duplass & Jay Duplass
I like Jason Segel.
This is the latest film by the Duplass brothers, who made ‘Cyrus’ which I have previously reviewed. It follows Jeff (who does indeed live at home) as he’s sent to buy some glue by his mother (Susan Sarandon) while she’s at work. However, Jeff has recently been watching ‘Signs’ (the 2002 film by M. Night Shyamalan) and is looking for signs in everything, which leads him to get distracted. He later is met by his brother Pat (Ed Helms, best known for the ‘Hangover’ films) who has problems of his own, and when they see Pat’s wife Linda (Judy Greer) with another man, they follow her.
Although the title suggest it’s all about Jeff, again like ‘Cyrus’ this is an ensemble piece, with a lot of attention on Jeff’s brother Pat and what’s going on in his life, and also their mother and her secret admirer at work, it’s just that Jeff get things going and holds it all together. The Duplass brothers seem to cast their actors very well, as Jason Segel is great. I’m a fan of his anyway, especially so after ‘The Muppets’, and here he play’s a character who sees meaning in meaningless situations and is nice to everyone he encounters, which I think suits him very well.
When Susan Sarandon is cast in a film you can’t really waste her, and they don’t by giving her a storyline too, that of being instant messaged by a secret admirer in her office. I don’t really know if that part of the story really worked so well, as it was something that could have been developed on a lot more but there was no tine in an 83 minute film. However it does serve a purpose too later in the narrative to bring things together.
As with ‘Cyrus’ the camera-work was in a somewhat documentary style, handheld and moving to give the sense that you’re watching ‘real’ people. I’m not sure if a camera technique is quite enough to make them all feel real, as so much happens in just the one day to them that’s far beyond what I could imagine fitting into a day. However, they are fun characters to watch and the running time is so short that things really do move along at a great pace to keep you interested. Though Jeff lives at home we’re not left just watching him sitting around it.