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Movie Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home

March 16, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home – A Paramount Pictures’ Release

http://www.JeffWhoLivesAtHome.com/

Release Date: March 16th, 2012

Rated 14A for coarse language and substance abuse

Running time: 83 minutes

Jay Duplass (dir.)

Mark Duplass (dir.)

Jay Duplass (writer)

Mark Duplass (writer)

Michael Andrews (music)

Jason Segel as Jeff

Ed Helms as Pat

Susan Sarandon as Sharon

Judy Greer as Linda

Rae Dawn Chong as Carol

Steve Zissis as Steve

©Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Jeff (Jason Segel) and Pat (Ed Helms) in Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

Our reviews below:

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Every once in a while, an excellent independent film comes along and seems to make our view of the world a little clearer.  As clichéd as this may sound, the surprisingly heartfelt Jeff, Who Lives at Home – the latest from the sibling team of Jay and Mark Duplass, is one of these films.  With every beat of the story about finding your own destiny leading up to a beautiful conclusion, this one has stuck with me since I first saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.  And when I saw it again recently for a second time, the film had the exact same effect on me.

Jeff (Jason Segel) is thirty and lives life in his mother’s basement firmly believing that there is an order to the universe and that every little thing is happening for a reason, obsessing over the symbolism in the M. Night Shyamalan movie, Signs.  Every phone call, even if it’s a wrong number from someone looking for Kevin, and every detour in his life is leading him to his destiny.  When his widowed mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon) sends him out to get some wood glue, he spends the day invariably affecting everyone around him and changing the life of his brother, Pat (Ed Helms) who’s wife, Linda (Judy Greer) has grown tired of their relationship.  It’s a quiet premise that seamlessly ends up somewhere brilliant, with every scene from first to final shot playing a role in the ultimate conclusion.

Jay and Mark Duplass have a clear passion for what they do and are a big force on the indie scene, having invigorated the mumblecore movement with films like The Puffy Chair.  Their films work because they know how to get great performances out of the actors, finding realism in every single situation and capturing quiet conversations with a genuine honesty.  I was a big fan of the dramedy Cyrus back in 2010, but in many ways Jeff, Who Lives at Home is their most fully realized film yet.  The excellent acting carries it, with Jason Segel and Ed Helms turning in some of their best performances.  Scenes between them at the cemetery where their father is buried and in a hotel bathroom are heartbreakingly bittersweet, are perfect moments where we realize how connected everything really is in the story.

With a hauntingly perfect musical score by Michael Andrews, every character and storyline is handled brilliantly in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, as the film seamlessly builds to a conclusion that could only be described as beautiful.  This is a funny, wonderfully acted and deeply moving film that will stick with you long after leaving the theatre.  Destined to become a cult classic, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a small masterpiece and the best movie of the year, so far.

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

In Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the title character played by Jason Segel lives in his mother’s basement.  When he gets a phone call from someone asking for Kevin, with the idea in his head that everything happens for a reason, he feels he must be meant to connect with a ‘Kevin’ in some way.  After being sent by his mother (Susan Sarandon), to get wood glue to fix a shutter, a turn of events causes him to run into his estranged brother Pat (Ed Helms), and as the day goes on, it truly becomes one where everything happens for a reason.

I’m not going to say any more.  I knew practically nothing going into the film, being told by others who’ve seen it to not even watch the trailer beforehand.  And I offer the same advice to you.  This film is best to just let unfold in front of you in the theatre as the trailer shows a little more than you may want to know.  If you like a quiet, moving, and at times funny human drama about connections between the people we meet, you should trust me and buy a ticket for this one.

I must admit, that I initially didn’t know how much I’d like this film, due to the dizzying camera work in the Duplass brother’s last film I saw, Cyrus, which I found had too much quick zooming in and out.  While there is a bit of those zooms here, the fact that the camera is held steadier and it is done more in moderation and not as extreme, makes it feel more like a stylistic choice and I could accept it as that.

What makes the film really work (besides the impeccably well-written script), is the acting.  In particular, both Ed Helms and Jason Segel are really good here, with great chemistry as brothers, and showing a more dramatic side than we often see in the roles they play.  The score too, by Michael Andrews, is fitting and charming in the film.  At only 83 minutes long, the film feels perfect – not too short, not too long – with every scene there for a reason.  We are content throughout to follow Jeff, Pat, and their mother’s stories, which while separate at times, all come together towards the end.  While some may call it contrived, the film feels totally genuine.  With ample emotion and heart, and characters we can connect to, this quiet little film is just wonderful and I look forward to seeing it again.

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Everything happens for a reason.  This is the philosophy of Jeff (Jason Segel), a 30-year-old stoner whose simple yet brilliant take on life leads him to help people in unexpected ways.  When Jeff – in his usual “enhanced” state – gets an angry wrong number phone call for a man named Kevin, he concludes that he must seek out what this means.  Meanwhile, Jeff’s brother Pat (Ed Helms) is having marital problems.  Jeff’s search for Kevin leads him to Pat, who desperately asks him to find out if his wife (Judy Greer) is cheating.  At the same time, their mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) has been receiving instant messages from a “secret admirer.”  What could this mean?

Jeff’s “Kevin quest” brings everyone together.  This leads to a heartwarming and brilliant conclusion.  Jeff, Who Lives at Home is cleverly written.  It is never melodramatic and each little detail really does lead into the next.  The acting is equally good, making the characters likable and believable.  But what I really liked is the message that each person is here on this Earth for a reason.  Whether in small ways or big, everyone really is connected and that is why we should be a positive influence on the world.

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Depending on your philosophical point of view, all life events are random or all connected in a meaningful and significant way.  In Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Jeff (played brilliantly by Jason Segel) is a thirty-year-old stoner and slacker who takes his philosophical cues from M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, Signs.

Believing that everything happens for a reason, Jeff gives particular significance to a wrong number call he receives looking for someone named “Kevin.”  Is there really such a thing as a “wrong” number?  Jeff doesn’t think so.  Guilted by his mother, Sharon’s (Susan Sarandon) phone request to go to Home Depot and pick up some wood glue, he makes his way from his mother’s basement and out into the outside world and off to a series of encounters that confirm his belief that everything does indeed happen for a reason.

Meanwhile, Mom Sharon is having her own series of events at the office with a secret admirer messaging her.  Jeff’s brother Pat (Ed Helms) is also going through his own changes and chance encounters as he comes to terms with the fact that his marriage to Linda (Judy Greer) is falling apart.  The brothers who have been estranged find themselves crossing paths and gradually rebuilding their bonds as siblings.

Directors Jay and Mark Duplass have created a warm, tightly written comedy in which every one of the 83 minutes in Jeff, Who Lives at Home matters to the story.  There is a really nice balance between the comedic and dramatic moments.  The connection between the events in the story are believable and brilliant.  Also believable are the four main characters, Jeff, Pat, Linda and Sharon.  Credit has to go to the fine performances from all four lead actors.  Jason Segel and Ed Helms prove that they can handle more dramatic elements along with their perfect comedic timing.

The handheld, zooming in and out camerawork that the Duplass brothers seem to favour works well here and is way less distracting than in their previous film, Cyrus.  A little of the technique goes a long way in Jeff, Who Lives at Home.  The score by Michael Andrews also really helps make this a wonderful film to watch.  I really enjoyed Jeff, Who Lives at Home.  I’m hoping this little indie gem doesn’t get lost with all the mainstream and blockbuster movies that are in or opening in theatres around the same time.  If you miss this one in theatres, be sure to watch for it when it comes out on disc.  Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a real treat.

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (Jason Segel) is a 30-year-old slacker. While puffing on a bong and musing about the film Signs, he gets a wrong number asking for Kevin, and sees it as a sign that some Kevin must play a role in his life. His mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) calls Jeff from work sending him out to get glue to fix a shutter. Meanwhile, Jeff’s older brother Pat (Ed Helms) has just alienated his wife Linda (Judy Greer) by buying a Porsche with no money down. Back at work, Sharon is getting texts from an office secret admirer and confides about this with her colleague Carol (Rae Dawn Chong). Within a day, the destinies of all these characters, as well as several Kevins, come together in strange and wonderful ways.

This latest feature from the Duplass brothers manages in just 83 minutes to endear us to several flawed but fully realized characters in situations that seem both wildly coincidental and inevitable. The cast handles the intricate script brilliantly in closeups that, unlike in the previous Duplass feature Cyrus, are shot with a steady hand that doesn’t distract us from the story. The Michael Andrews score fits the action perfectly.

Like all great films, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is not only enjoyable on first viewing. It leads to a lot of reflection afterwards and is rich enough to reward subsequent viewings with fresh insights.

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Consensus: With brilliant performances from Jason Segel and Ed Helms coupled with a deeply heartfelt story where every scene leads up to a beautiful conclusion, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a funny and touching film that is worth seeking out.  **** (Out of 4)

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