out of Five
Running time: 83
Consistently amusing and surprisingly thoughtful, this is an enjoyable, emotionally engaging character comedy with a strong script and superb performances from Segel and Helms.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus), Jeff Who Lives At Home stars Jason Segel as 30 year old stoner Jeff, who lives in his mother's basement and has recently become obsessed with fate and destiny after multiple rewatches of M Night Shyamalan's Signs. Urged by his exasperated mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) to leave the house and run an errand, Jeff instead gets into a series of scrapes with his older brother Pat (Ed Helms), who has just discovered that his wife Linda (Judy Greer) may be cheating on him.
Having earlier received a threatening, wrong number phone call for “Kevin”, Jeff is convinced that his destiny is calling, so he impulsively follows any and all Kevin-related signs, whether it's following a man wearing a football shirt that says “Kevin” or jumping on the back of a truck with “Kevin” written on it. Meanwhile, Sharon receives a message from a secret admirer at work and attempts to puzzle it out with her best friend Carol (Rae Dawn Chong), but she's shocked when she eventually discovers who it's really from.
Having started his career playing a dopey, perma-stoned teenager on Freaks & Geeks, Jason Segel can play 30 something perma-stoned manchild in his sleep and while Jeff isn't exactly a stretch for his acting talents, he duly delivers a likeable and sincere performance that works well. He also has strong chemistry with Ed Helms (cast slightly but intriguingly against type as the not-quite-alpha-male brother) and there's terrific support from both Judy Greer and an under-used Susan Sarandon.
The Duplass Brothers are adept at this kind of low-key character comedy (check out their superb debut The Puffy Chair) and the script is consistently amusing, with several laugh-out-loud moments, including a great opening involving Jeff excitedly recording his thoughts about Signs on a dictaphone. The film is also both surprisingly thoughtful and emotionally engaging, thanks to an impressively staged final act that might have seemed overly clichéd in other hands but seems appropriate here.
Jeff Who Live at Home is an enjoyable, well directed and surprisingly thoughtful character comedy with an engaging script and superb performances from Segel and Helms. Recommended.