Written and Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass, Jeff, Who Lives at Home continues the streak of off-beat humor and emotionally connected comedic stories that include Cyrus, Baghead and the Olympics inspired The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (in theaters now). There films are playful examinations of the family dynamic – albeit in tilted ways with peculiar paradigms – but it gives rise to sweet stories that spill out funny moments rather than laying them up, and offer us something a little different every time. Just like the film Signs, with which the character of Jeff is oddly obsessed, Jeff delights in teasing with twists and by the time the movie has come to an end, you will find a smile on your face that comes with a few caveats, but the experience of Jeff, Who Lives at Home is clever and intelligent enough to invite you back to enjoy it again.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Rated R for language including sexual references and some drug use
Film Length: 82 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Review Date: June 24, 2012
Sharon:” Jeff, what do you do in the basement? You're not cleaning it.”
Jeff: “You really want to know? You didn't like it last time we had this conversation”
Jeff is a little lost. He’s 30 years old, lives at home in the basement of his parents and is certain that life must hinge on fate held within the randomness of events (he’s addicted to M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs). Jeff has an older brother, Pat, whose life is unraveling slowly in front of his eyes. He has discovered that his wife, Linda, is stepping out on him and he finds himself caught up in the lure of coincidences and bizarre connections that have embroiled Jeff. Their mother, Sharon, is running out of patience.
Jason Segal plays Jeff, a man whose disheveled outward appearance is a mirror for the jumbled up rubble of his inner world. Segal enjoys a niche of the lowly everyman – perhaps most successfully in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and in Jeff he drifts his performance away from the sad sap toward the (potentially) failingly misguided. He gives his character a vulnerability matched only by the confidence his character feels in the signs fate is giving him – messages from infomercials, the recurring appearance of the name Kevin, and other moments that reinforce his belief. It’s a terrific performance.
Ed Helms as Pat continues to deliver anchored but off-balance comedic performances, riding the commercial success of the Hangover film’s into more interesting affairs, Jeff and Cedar Rapids included. Susan Sarandon as Sharon, Jeff and Pat’s mother, is quite superb playing a lady at her wit’s end with her son who cannot seem to pull himself together to make something of himself. She lives a frustrated life but one that is tinged with a dash of mystery (through her secret admirer). The supporting cast is all fine, with Judy Greer (Arrested Development) very good as the cheating Linda and Rae Dawn Chong particularly delightful as Sharon’s co-worker, Carol.
Jeff is an ensemble pieced tethered by the unusual paradigm of the Jeff character and rests upon Segal’s delivery of the pathetic, likeable, singularly focused but somehow gently enchanted character. Partnered with Ed Helms as his brother, a man with limited visions of success, oblivious to his failings but still measuring himself against the low-bar of his pot-smoking brother, the film renders its tone with a sweet nature, twists of possibilities of fate, and a reality that isn’t so far into fiction that we can’t feel the semi-sweet victories that these characters experience with some joy.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is presented in 1080p High Definition in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is a lovely representation of his high definition source. There is certain drabness inherent in each scene but the colors of more muted leanings are frequently offset by beautiful lighting, raising the colors up into a much warmer realm. The image is crisp throughout and demonstrates a wonderful level of detail. You will be pleased.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a larger garage than the car of this film needs (as it were), but it shines in all the ways the subject matter of this film demands. Michael Andrews composes a pleasantly adjunct score, complimenting the quirks and cementing the sentiment with a deft hand. Andrews has contributed scores to a large number of comedies in recent years since Donnie Darko, his first extraordinary feature film score, scores such as Funny People, Crazy for Love and Bridesmaids. A dialogue heavy film, the center channel is tasked heavily and the sound is crisp and issue free in all regards.
Sadly, no extras, no stars.
In Jeff, moments are exaggerated with zooms of the camera which quite frankly can be off-putting until the cadence of the film is set and this off-kilter world in which this off-kilter family is struggling to get back on the trail finds its unusual path. The film’s charm manages to exceed any filmmaking quirks, however. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a smarter comedy than most offered these days and that in and of itself is a cause for celebration.
Overall (Not an average)