Perhaps that’s why people can relate to the new film “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” about a jobless, 30-year-old stoner, who is obsessed with the movie “Signs” and lives in his mother’s basement.
The film stars Jason Segal and Ed Helms as brothers Jeff and Pat, and Susan Sarandon, as their mother, Sharon. Indy veterans Jay and Mark Duplass of “Cyrus” fame, who wrote and directed the film, give us a unique look inside the lives of three people who are still coping with some heavy baggage after losing a family member several years before.
With Segal and Helms in the lead roles, and without reading any reviews, I expected more comedy and maybe even slapstick at times, but I was completely surprised by the film’s serious undertones. It was a pleasant surprise, and although it does have some humorous moments, it’s actually more of a heartwarming and poignant story of a young man in crisis.
The story takes place over the course of one crazy day, Sharon’s birthday, when all she wants as a gift is for Jeff to get on a bus, go to Home Depot, and buy some wood glue to fix one of the shutters in the house before she gets home from work. Jeff agrees to complete the task, but along the way gets sidetracked by the “signs” that are everywhere that may lead him to his life’s purpose.
Jeff isn’t your stereotypical pothead, at least not in the way that is usually portrayed on screen. A philosopher of sorts, he is a likeable and a gentle spirit with a big heart who sees life in a unique and interesting way. And OK, the pot probably has something to do with that vision. Along his journey he meets up with his brother, Pat, a jaded man who’s marriage is in trouble, and who is the exact opposite of Jeff in every way. Ed Helms is terrific in this role, especially since we’re used to seeing him play more affable characters.
Impeccably cast, these actors, and the supporting cast of Rae Dawn Chong and Judy Greer, play their roles to perfection.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” isn’t the best movie I’ve seen this year, but I really liked it … a lot. It was an enjoyable way to spend 83 minutes on a dismal Saturday afternoon. As with many indie type films, it also has a fine soundtrack. You can’t go wrong with it.