Always count on your big bro to make you feel less weird than you already are.
The film revolves around one man (Jason Segel) searching for the meaning of life while running to the store to buy wood glue. Using the universe as his guide, Jeff looks for signs to help determine his path. However, a series of comedic and unexpected events leads him to cross paths with his family in the strangest of locations and circumstances. Jeff just may find the meaning of his life… and if he’s lucky, pick up the wood glue as well.
The Duplass Brothers‘ last big film was ‘Cyrus’, a film that was strange and quirky but still had a nice heart to it and some pretty good laughs. It’s also the film that got these guys big and made people realize that they are an indie force to be reckoned with, however, I don’t think that they should be showing this one off if that is the case.
The film seems like a minor one because it just barely gets by a run-time of only 80 minutes and takes course over a single day but this is also a film that seems to show The Duplass Bros. stretching out their legs and seeing what they can do with a somewhat bigger budget. The plot here allows them to at least branch out a bit by having the whole thing take place outside and even let them pursue some action here although it’s not the kind you’re probably thinking of. Still, they have the same old hand-held camera style where its jumpy and constantly zooms in-and-out awkwardly on the characters. Their style of mumblecore works well for this flick because there are many moments where I felt myself laughing a bit but also feeling something for these characters and investing myself more and more into them. However, that only went so far.
Much of the script is improvised, exactly how the directors like it, and it adds this sort of genuine flow to the film that works but at the same time takes away from the flick. Since you have these two funny-as-hell actors up in front of us the whole time, you would expect them to make us practically howling out of our seats but instead, they just resort to yelling the F-bomb out of each other and getting in physical fights, physical fights that are actually a lot funnier than what either of them say. Usually these guys are hilarious and have me on the verge of tears but for some odd reason, everything they said just came off as either unfunny or totally flat. I guess Segel was just waiting for Kermit or Miss Piggy to pop-up.
The two different story-lines that these brothers have aren’t very interesting since their so damn simple. Jeff is just a pot smoking dope who lives in his mommy’s basement and barely ever comes out and Pat is a regular dude who seems to be having a marriage that is falling down to an impending doom. There’s nothing too special about either of these story-lines at all but what was pretty neat was the whole idea Jeff has behind that everything in the world is connected to each other in some way or another. It’s pretty cool to see how everything does come together here, just like it was supposed to in Jeff’s mind, but then that mumbo jumbo spiritual crap started to get redundant and made it get a bit annoying after awhile.
What was bad with this film though was that by the end, all of the “comedy” that we saw in the beginning of the flick starts to go away within the last 20 minutes and everything begins to get dramatic. And when I mean dramatic, I mean DRAMATIC. I don’t mind if a comedy is trying to show some of its heart and even a little bit of its love it has to give but it gets very cheesy, very quick and it just came across as melodramatic rather than natural. At least with the Duplass’ last flick, they at least were subtle about showing their soft side, this film just bares it all with the over-powering indie score and everything.
However, when it really came down to it, the performances from everybody involved is what really made this flick work in the end. Jason Segel is good as this goofy and very philosophical dope, Jeff, and the slacker that he always plays his roles with is here but this time it at least has more of a heart and soul this time; Ed Helms is good as Pat but was a little too deuchy for me at points but then again, that was pretty much how he was supposed to be so my point was pretty dumb; Judy Greer is once again great in her little role as the wife of Pat, Linda, who seems to be cheating on him and she has a couple of good scenes where she shows some real emotion and gets this film into its dramatic territory but there’s not enough of her here (then again though, when is there ever?); and Susan Sarandon plays Pat and Jeff’s mommy who actually has the most interesting story as she deals with a secret admirer in her work-place, but then her story sort of gets thrown into unbelievable material by the end and it kind of loses it’s fun feeling it had.
Consensus: Jeff, Who Lives at Home has some funny and touching moments much ado to the cast, but ultimately feels like a let-down from the Duplass Brothers considering how lazy the writing feels, how unfunny many parts, and just how damn dramatic everything gets by the end. It definitely makes me want to watch ‘Cyrus’ again and see what made that one way better than this flick.
I really enjoyed it, and viewed it as a nice slice of life piece akin to Little Miss Sunshine. Not a game changer, but a film dealing with people and situations that for the mist part felt real. I wasn’t coming in expecting a straight up comedy, I didn’t know what to expect really. But I did leave feeling satisfied.
I liked certain moments in this flick, much ado to the cast, but I felt the writing was a little too obvious to be based on real-life. Thanks Chuck!
There were too many coincidences to make it authentic to life, but the reactions to this came off as sincere. Jason Segel in particular really sells his performance with subtlety. The small gestures and facial expressions really got me the most. Some of the plotting was a bit predictable, but that didn’t make the road there less satisfying, for me.
Nice review. Your opinion is well-argued.
I thought this movie was good fun. I liked the contrast between comedy and drama, and it was great to see both Segel and Helms get a chance to show off their acting chops. Probably my favorite film from the Duplass brothers, though their tendency to rapidly zoom in and out in this movie is a bit grating.
It had good moments and the cast was good but the Duplass Bros. kind of drop the ball with their writing here. Thanks Eric!
It’s definitely a film I’ve been wanting to see because I’m a big fan of the cast, especially Jason Segel. It’s interesting to hear that about that type of humor though – some of the complaint he’s received over his time with How I Met Your Mother is that often they write his character resorting to yelling to be funny instead of just having that natural sense of humor of his pop out.
And I love Ed Helms! I think he’s great at being just a little douchy too (Hangover Ed), but it sounds weird that they made a 360 degree turn to drama near the end of the film. I’m seeing it this week, so I’m looking forward to that.
I’m with you on that there’s almost never enough of Judy Greer in anything. I really like her in almost everything she’s in, and for the life of me I wish that she would be more than just a supporting character. And Susan Sarandon? I don’t think it gets much better than her. LOVE her. Good review, Dan!
Thanks Kristin! Hope you like it!
I guess this is just a film where you either enjoy watching it or you don’t. It’s not a bad film by any means, I really liked it but I recognize that it’s not perfect as I said in my review.
Good stuff though, will check out your blog more often. Thanks for commenting on my little site that nobody reads, haha
No problemo Ken! I’m glad you liked it and at least saw my points that I brought up.
I’m looking forward to this. I’m a fan of Jason Segel and really loving seeing him on the big screen more and more these days. (He’s wasted on How I Met Your Mother!).
Hoping to check the film out here… if it ever makes its way to the big screen.
I loved the use of water in the film. How it connected the brother and mother together without being in your face. Then later, water comes back to cleanse the three in different ways.