johnlink ranks JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011)

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME is a small comedy. Coming in at under an hour and a half, it is one of those quirky indie films which gets in and gets out quickly. But is it any good?


I watched JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011) on 5.15.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is a film which starts with Jeff (Jason Segel) breathlessly talking into a recording device as he explains his affinity for the movie SIGNS. Coincidence isn’t coincidence if there is a plan, he reveals. The camera cuts to a farther shot revealing that he is sitting on the toilet. This is what stands in (or sits) for his philosophizing time.

The opening instantly tells us we are in for a quiet and quirky comedy. It also attempts to nip in the bud the biggest flaw of the film. By addressing coincidence as having a bigger meaning, writing and directing brothers Jay and Mark Duplass are giving us a heads up that we are about to see a whole lot of coincidence and that we need to be okay with it.

For the most part, this concept works. By using the device of having people randomly run into each other at various places time and again, the movie manages to come at a speedy pace. There is not much wandering or wasted time here. The story starts with Jeff needing to get some wood glue at the home depot for his mom (Susan Sarandon), who, incidentally, is being courted at work by a secret admirer. At the same time, Jeff’s brother Pat (Ed Helms) is in the process of destroying his own relationship with his wife (Judy Greer).

Jeff is sidetracked from his task by a need to find someone named Kevin. This takes him around the city and to a couple of minor adventures. In the meanwhile, he runs into his brother at a Hooters. He and his brother then run into Pat’s wife who may be having an affair. Pat and Jeff argue and split up, only to find each other again. It all culminates in one final grand meeting of all the major characters on a bridge for a surprisingly active ending.

The characters in this are well written and deep. Even if Jeff is a stoner with no direction, his carefree life is the envy of his brother Pat (even if Pat is loathe to admit it). Jeff is unhappy because, well, he lives at home and doesn’t do anything. Pat is an egotistical prick and it is a wonder how he ever got married to such a nice woman in the first place. Their mom admits to not liking her kids, though she can’t remember when that started happening. The script gives each character a nice ark, and they truly do end in a different place from where they start.

The camerawork is mostly nice, though an overabundance of in-shot zooms can draw unnecessary attention to the camera and the filmmakers. Otherwise, this is an indie looking film which doesn’t glamorize its locations or its subjects.

What makes or breaks this audience for an audience member, it would seem then, is whether or not you can be on board with the staggering number of plot-driving coincidences the script employs. If that is a pet peeve of yours, this movie will drive you nuts (even if it is ambiguously driving at a bigger spiritual message). If you can look past that, this is a nice little comedy with enough heart and plenty of humor to make it worth visiting.




FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on May 16, 2014.

4 Responses to “johnlink ranks JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011)”

  1. Good review John. I felt like the cast tried a bit too hard here. Everybody was charming doing the things that they do, but a lot of the improv just did not work out as well as the Duplass Brothers probably wanted it to.

    • I can see that. I didn’t have a personal issue with any particular scene or moment in that regard, but the totality of it was not top notch.

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