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Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Genre Comedy
 
Review:

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a slacker comedy with a difference. Our hero is on a journey, the kind that we sometimes mistake for everyday life, in which he lets his destiny simply unfold as a series of interconnected signs, after his mom tells him to get something from the shop.

The Duplass brothers, best known for The Puffy Chair and Cyrus, have written and directed another offbeat indie comedy with a name cast and a slow-burning message about destiny and self-actualisation. Don't worry, it's down-to-earth and they've given Jeff, Who Lives at Home an everyday normalcy tweaked by the magic of film. What we get is a character-driven comedy that weaves the stories of three family members together.

Jason Segel would be a multiple recipient if the Academy decided to create an award for the most naturally charming, down-to-earth, likable guy in Hollywood. From his on-screen persona, Segel is easy-going and he embodies this care-free spirit in Jeff, in what could have been a realistic prequel to The Big Lebowski. His performance is refreshingly gentle, naive even and Segel just oozes charm without breaking a sweat.

He's supported by Ed Helms, of The Hangover and Cedar Rapids notoriety, who slots in as Jeff's brother, Pat. Helms is an accomplished comedy actor, but you get the impression that the part was written with Ben Stiller in mind. The part requires a degree of pigheaded arrogance and apathy, which is made funny and sympathetic by all the character's untimely setbacks as he fumbles his way through a midlife crisis.

Susan Sarandon plays Jeff's mother, Sharon, a single parent whose mundane daytime job has become the hunting ground for a secret admirer. In an interoffice game of cat-and-mouse, she finds excitement in the chase after a colleague starts dropping clues. Sarandon delivers a fine performance that makes a great counterbalance to the philosophical pursuits of Jeff and the hard-and-fast lifestyle of Pat.

The solid cast is rounded off by the always funny, ever attractive Judy Greer as Pat's wife Linda, whose selfish husband and failing marriage seem like a dead-end. She doesn't have the same amount of screen time as her co-stars, yet manages to nail down a convincing performance as the takes-two-to-tango woman on the brink of divorce.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is carried by a solid cast and strong, nuanced comedic performances that manage to balance out the joys and tragedies of real-life with a sense of humour. The Duplass brothers have stitched their hearts into this script and just when you think the story's meandering soul has drifted out of reach, they reel it in with a flood of heartwarming emotion.

Just like M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, this Duplass movie has a spiritual element about discovering your purpose in life and following the signs. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is so much more than a down-the-line comedy and requires that you tap into each of the character's quests as they grapple with the feeling that there's got to be something more to life.

The bottom line: Quirky

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