Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Jeff Who Lives at Home
Mark Dupass, Jason Segel and Ed Helms

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 16, 2012 Released by: Paramount Vantage

This character-driven tale from the same makers of Cyrus may be akin to that more balanced dissection of quirky dramedy which starred Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei.
Here, siblings Jay and Mark Duplass, known for their naturalistic "mumble-core" approach, don't seem to have enough story to meet their demands on a personal examination of disparate, yet troubled brothers acted by Jason Segel (The Muppets) and Ed Helms (The Hangover II) in Jeff Who Lives at Home.
Segel's titular fellow is looking for meaning in his life at 30 living a very casual, arrested-development lifestyle in his mother's basement. Jeff's settled-down older brother Pat (Helms from TV's The Office and interesting movie projects like Cedar Rapids, a kind of fish-out-of-water story) has seemed to taken his life for granted, professionally and personally, as he has gotten a new Porsche (typical for male mid-life crisis) which has dampened his relationship with loving wife Linda (Judy Greer).
The storyline hinges on Jeff and Pat unexpectedly needing one another through an errand given to the former, slacker by their mother (Susan Sarandon) who appears to have extracurricular activities with someone from work. There's also the name Kevin which comes as a sign to Jeff through a TV ad in a way that informs him like the work of  M. Night Shymalan, in particular his movie which featured Mel Gibson as a conflicted man of the cloth.
In what has occasional pretentious markings for sure there are stretches that don't amount to a whole lot a continuity between the pointed and the humorous as the filmmaking brothers use zippy close-ups and up-and-down unsteadiness to some of the hand-held lensing. In the unique way he reaches Pat, Jeff has to help him out find out what Linda may be up to as well as their mother. The zaniness finally reaches its zenith on a very traffic-filled bridge as Jeff realizes where he's meant to be.
Even with solid comedy performers like Segel and Helms who interact quite well together, gaining wider commercial acclaim may be difficult as their fans may be awaiting their larger studio ventures (the former with Emily Blunt, for example, in the upcoming Judd Apatow produced The Five Year Engagement). Their closeness which takes them out of their insular worlds through anger and the rivalry is well-established by the characters. Though the Duplass text is more suited to the format of a short, some dramatic heft comes by way of Sarandon and to a lesser extent Greer (fine in a supporting turn in The Descendants) in what can almost be touching from a weird banal naivety.

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Jeff Who Lives at Home        C+                  C+ 

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