Jeff, Who Lives At Home Review

This week sees the arrival of the Duplass brothers’ new comedy Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

The titular Jeff is thirty, unemployed and that’s right still lives at home. Arts undergrads, take heed. Jeff believes everything happens for a reason, so when he gets a phone call from a wrong number looking for someone called Kevin, he sees this as a sign from the universe directing him towards his destiny.

Rising from his mother’s sofa, Jeff ventures out in search of this Kevin. Instead, he happens across his older brother Pat who seems to have it all; a good job, nice Porsche, even better apartment and great wife.

Naturally, it turns out the Porsche is a symbol of Pat’s deepening mid-life crisis as his spouse may very well be having an affair. Perhaps he hasn’t got it that great after all.

So Pat enlists Jeff’s help in determining the fidelity of his wife, our live in hero continues his search for Kevin, all the while their mother Sharon sits in her office cubicle wondering where the excitement and passion has gone from her life.

The characters, construction and plot Jeff, Who Lives At Home are kids’ film simple. Jeff and Pat, played by the excellent Jason Segel and a pitch perfect Ed Helms respectively, are polar opposites, whilst the three plot strands of each family member inexorably come together in under the hour and a half it take for this film to play out.

There’s an innocence about Jay and Mark Duplass’ new comedy, like an old school kids’ film. The childlike xylophones of Michael Andrews’ adorable score only add to this unembarrassed heart on your sleeve film, taking you back to a time when you too possessed unquestioning, child-like faith in happy endings.

Bambi’s mother aside.

A cynic would argue everything here is just a little too convenient, and it is. Chance encounters occur at just the right moments, people appear precisely when they are needed and everything gets tied up all too neatly.

But so what? In the same feel vein as Napoleon Dynamite, though admittedly not as strong, Jeff, Who Lives At Home is neither too clever by half nor does it aspire to include any sort of overly complicated sub-text.

It’s a simple story of ordinary people trying to find meaning in the way their lives are turning out.

In lesser hands, this could have easily descended into sickening, saccharine sappiness; but the Duplass brothers, along with the perfectly cast ensemble, hit all the right notes in their respective roles to make an ok script stronger than it might otherwise have been.

For me, a film with a pure heart that’s out to say something sweet and positive, in a time where cynicism is so very hip, is well worth watching.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is a feel good comedy that really will leave feeling just that, and that ain’t no easy task.

E J Robinson

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May 2012
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