“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” – Review by Zachary Marsh

Who could imagine that Jason Segal, that naked comedian from Forgetting Sarah Marshall can smoke weed and give a stellar performance at the same time. If you’re as amazed by hearing that, then you should check out his new movie Jeff, Who Lives at Home, which is being released this March. This dark comedy, also stars Ed Helms of The Hangover and The Office fame as Jeff’s brother Pat and the always great Susan Sarandon as their mother. Jeff is a thirty something slacker, who lives in his mother’s basement and is still looking for his purpose in life. Pat is a “successful” businessman, who is so self absorbed that can’t even see that his marriage is slowly falling apart. After receiving a mysterious phone call looking for a man named “Kevin,” Jeff believes that he is about to find his destiny. After a weird string of events, Jeff manages to pull Pat along for the ride and the two soon learn that today their paths were meant to cross.

I saw this film at the Philadelphia Film Festival and there was no way to know whether the film was going to be good or not before I got tickets.  The Philadelphia Film Festival had screened this film six months in advance and without a rating, so I took my chances. Luckily enough, Jeff, Who Lives at Home lives up to its hilarious title. The film is funny as hell, while also being very sweet and poignant in a way that it may tug at your heartstrings a little. Jeff, Who Lives at Home may be the sweetest and most poignant film to come out in 2012.

Its nice to see Jason Segal trying to be in a drama while at the same time make some hilarious jokes. Because of the dramatic aspect of the film, Segal gives the best performance of his career so far. The character that Segal plays is a stoned thirty something living at home waiting for destiny to come his way, is comparable to Seth Rogen’s character in 50/50 though not as obnoxious or perverted.  Jeff is the type of guy you’d actually want to hang out with or just smoke a joint with. Despite being a slacker with a love for weed, you can relate to Jeff’s situation. Jeff is simply looking for his destiny after getting “Kevin’s” phone call, and in some ways the other supporting players in the film are looking for their destiny as well, and that is shown as the film comes together in the end.

Everyone in life has their own destiny, whether it’s top of the world or bottom of the slumps. Jeff, Who Lives At Home depicts that sublimely, though not being as fantastic as it could have been. Sure I laughed a lot and the drama was effective, but there was one plot line that I felt was unnecessary to the storyline except for the very end of the film. This storyline involves Susan Sarandon, Jeff’s mother in the film, dealing with her own work problems throughout. Her subplot quickly becomes predictable as the story progresses, which I had a problem with because I like surprises in my movies. I’m not going to say what this plot was about because of its release date, but I’m just going to leave it at that saying that her plot line was my least favorite thing about the film.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is not a fantastic movie, but you will laugh your ass off and (if you have a heart) cry at points. The performances are really good, the story is well written, and The Duplass Brothers are now on my list of directors to keep my eye out for in the future. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Paramount and Indian Paintbrush market this movie, because it’s very hard to categorize this as a mainstream or indie film. I’d say go wide, mainly because this film will be popular amongst The Office fans. What I mean by that is besides Ed Helms, the film has similar camera shots, quirkiness, and documentary style feel similar to the show that I think will allow fans to enjoy this film. Jeff may last only 83 minutes, but you may come out of this surprised and even touched by how good this goofy premise turned out to be. While the film’s release is still three months away, Jeff is something you may want to mark onto your calendars soon. I guarantee that you will be laughing before the opening credits even begin to roll because of the awesome opening monologue given by Jeff about the Mel Gibson movie ‘Signs.’ Do I really have to say much more? – Review by Zachary Marsh

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