Title: Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Screenwriters: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer
Screened at the 2011 Mill Valley Film Festival.
Ordinary people search for glimpses of the extraordinary in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, a whimsical bit of buffoonery from indie stalwarts the Duplass Brothers, coming off their big crossover triumph with Cyrus. That film, which I thought was even better than the generally warm reviews suggested, put the Duplasses’ loose, genial style in the service of an instantly relatable story populated with specific, sharply drawn characters; dead-on performances from the likes of John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener also didn’t hurt any. Jeff, on the other hand, centers on a pothead (Jason Segel) who tries to model his life after M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, and his asshole idiot brother (Ed Helms), who fears his wife (Judy Greer) may be cheating on him, when really, she should have murdered him ages ago.
You see the problem. The film is reasonably funny, but focusing as it does on a pair of mildly insane cretins, it doesn’t quite connect. I was ready to give up until the Duplasses busted out a deranged, almost totally unexpected ending that I suspect most people will hate, but which seemed right to me: there’s a lot of bullshit talk about “destiny” in the movie, but what we ultimately get isn’t destiny, just a little bit of caring and courage. It’s an oddly touching swerve that the sluggish Jeff desperately needed.
— Eugene Novikov