“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” — A Film Review by Gary Chew
A dependent clause in search of being appended to a complete sentence is the title of a movie just opening. That would be, “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.”
To be more specific, Jeff (Jason Segel) lives in a room in his mother’s basement. He’s 30 or so, and hasn’t had a girl friend since high school. Of course, he’s also unemployed, which gives him the opportunity to smoke a little weed when his widowed mom, Sharon (Susan Sarandon), is at the office.
After cute-sounding music (some of it played on a marimba,) our story opens with Jeff getting a call. It seems to be a wrong number. A rude dude is on the line demanding to speak with Kevin. There is no “Kevin” in Sharon and Jeff’s house, upstairs or downstairs.
However, since Jeff is in search of his destiny, in a sort of cosmic order kind of way, the name “Kevin” surely must be a sign that is being given unto him.
You’d think this R-rated, 2011 film is not much about anything and, with Ed Helms (“The Office”) playing Jeff’s married brother Pat, you’ve got another 90 minutes to spend in Slacker City. It’s just that Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Jack Black weren’t cast in it.
The Duplass brothers hold responsibility for this flick. Jay and Mark also did 2008’s “Baghead” which boasts native Sacramentan Greta Gerwig as a cast member.
After another phone call, this one from his mom barking an order at Jeff to go to the hardware store to get glue — which he will then use to repair a damaged wooden window blind — our hero sets out to seek “Kevin.”
Riding the bus to the hardware store, Jeff spots another guy on board who’s wearing a basketball jersey. On the back, it cryptically states, “Kevin!”
Well now, the story really kicks into gear with that seemingly random event on a normal jaunt anyone might take on public transportation.
The places Jeff’s journey takes him in his ordinary, neat Louisiana hometown continue to suggest: “Yes, this is a movie about absolutely nothing.
All the amazingly and seemingly random occurrences approach the extraordinary, as Jeff just happens to run into his bro Pat who has just completed an important business lunch at Hooters. Pat and his lovely wife, Linda (Judy Greer), are experiencing a fade in their relationship, is the news Pat lays on Jeff.
Low and behold — and soon, Jeff and Pat happen to see Linda in the window of a fancy restaurant lunching with some guy Pat doesn’t even recognize. That man, who is named Steve is played by Steve Zissis. He also had a part in “Baghead.”
Jeff’s sort of cosmic trek for “Kevin” moves on by a local motel where Pat and Jeff spot Linda’s car parked — in broad daylight. I must tell you that Linda and Steve are having some wine in one of the rooms. A bit of hell breaks loose.
Meanwhile, over at Sharon’s workplace, mom is just picking up on an anonymous secret admirer (via computer) who’s right there in the office with her. I can’t say anymore about that. Such a spoiler it would be.
Funny thing, all the while I’ve been watching “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” a movie not really much about anything, I notice that I’m being entertained.
And after seeing the third act, I have to tell you that (I know this might sound bizarre) the picture elicited some of the same emotions I experienced watching the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 2004. Remember “Crash?”
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is a slacker movie that really delivers the goods when it comes to making you feel good. And you don’t even know what’s coming.
The film is absolutely about something, for sure. And the Duplass brothers know exactly what that is. I think they want you to know what it is, too.