I'm sure that most of us have sat back and wondered if there's something greater in life for us. Some of us do it every once in a while, while others make a habit out of it. The people who make a habit of doing it may even have a special place to go and think about these sort of things. In the film Jeff, Who Lives at Home, we see a guy just like that. He does most of his wondering and critical thinking in the comfort of his mom's basement.
In this movie, Jeff (Jason Segel) is a slacker who wants to find meaning in his life. He looks for signs all around him that he believes will help him discover his true destiny. His family on the other hand, believe that he's lazy, incompetent and doesn't want to do much of anything. The day his mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) angrily asks him to go to the store and buy glue to fix the shades in the house, Jeff discovers that he might have a meaning in life.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is by no means a perfect film, but it does have many positive qualities. It's a good-natured movie that is able to deliver comedy, drama and a little more in a very small package. It takes the personality of its protagonist and is subtle, easy-going and notably understated in its approach. There's something about this movie that just seemed normal on the surface, but eventually feels like it's a little bit more than that.
Jeff is busy trying to find his way in life and wondering what his very existence on this planet could mean. That's basically backbone of the story, but that's not the only thing going on here. There are far more layers to this movie and it asks the other actors to join in and help carry the film almost as much as it wants Jason Segel to. The story in Jeff, Who Lives at Home is really about the lives of Jeff, his brother Pat (Ed Helms) and their mother Sharon.
All three of them bring their own personal difficulties to the table deal with, but they also have strenuous and distant relationships with one another. They're a dysfunctional family that can't seem to fix or understand their troubles. With the exception of Jeff, they appear to be struggling with and stressed out by the everyday issues that brought them to where they're at in life.
Most of the character are flawed human beings in a normal and realistic kind of way. None of them appear to know the answers to their consistent hassles that life offers, even though they may have those answers right in front of them. This leads to the more mature themes of Jeff, Who Lives at Home. These themes are utilized in a soft and touching way that humanizes every one of the primary characters in its own way.
I was expecting a darker movie with loads of comedy, but that's not what I got. What I got was a soft and low-key film that strives to develop cinematic poignancy. The dramatic aspects of the film do more for it than anything else that's included. It adds a quality and substance to a movie that correctly uses most of its overlying messages.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is about learning who you are as an individual, following your heart and trying to understand the world around from a spiritual perspective. It wasn't insanely funny, but it was funny enough when it wanted to be. This was much closer to a dramedy and I think this is something that people in general can enjoy. I don't agree with everything that it tries to teach, but I do appreciate the efforts of the Duplass brothers and the overall messages that their film wants to push out. This is a film with its heart in the right place that tells the audience that sometimes, you have to let fate guide you to where you need to be.
Rae Dawn Chong
Film Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: March 16, 2012 (Limited)
Distributor: Paramount Vantage