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Jeff Who Lives at Home (2011)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/19/2012
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/19/2012
It's happened to all of us. A friend or co-worker attempts to tell a story or anecdote and we immediately realize that the person cannot tell a coherent story. One would think that storytelling would be an inherent ability, but keeping characters and facts straight while also engaging the listener is no easy task. We see this all the time in movies. The film has a good idea, but the writer or director simply can't get their point across, or they can't do it in way which makes the viewer want to see more. At times, this can make a movie unwatchable. In other cases, the simply makes the movie a challenge which must be overcame, as with Jeff Who Lives at Home.
Jason Segel stars in Jeff Who Lives at Home as the titular character, a slacker pothead who lives in his mother's basement. Jeff has some pretty weird ideas about life and he often has trouble finding motivation. On this particular morning, two things happen -- first, his mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon), leaves him a note asking that he go to Lowes for wood glue; secondly, he receives a call from someone looking for Kevin. Jeff gets on the bus to go to Lowes, but becomes distracted when he sees a young man wearing a jersey with "Kevin" on the back. Meanwhile, we meet Jeff's brother, Pat (Ed Helms), who is married to Linda (Judy Greer). Their rocky marriage isn't helped by the fact that Pat has purchased a Porsche without consulting with Linda. Jeff is walking past Hooters when he's spotted by Pat. The two get into Pat's Porsche, when they then spot Linda. This leads to a series of event and coincidences in which Pat and Jeff travel around the city, trying to learn the state of Pat's marriage. In the meantime, Sharon is attempting to learn the identity of her secret admirer at work.
Jeff Who Lives at Home comes from Mark and Jay Duplass, writer/director brothers who made their name as part of the "mumblecore" movement. This involves movies which involve non-professional actors and little scripting...which can be just as off-putting as it sounds. I saw their movieBaghead, and well, it didnít do much for me. I donít have an issue with improvisation, but Iíve always been of the belief that if you are going to bother to make a movie, then it should have some sort of direction.
Jeff Who Lives at Home represents a change for the Duplassí. First of all, they are obviously working with professional actors in this film, and theyíve assembled a solid cast. Weíve seen Segel as the slacker before, but he takes it to a different direction here, as Jeff also seems to be exhibiting some mental health issues as well. Helms is playing his typical high-strung character. Sarandon is good in her small role as an older woman who canít imagine someone being attracted to her.
Putting together a cast of people who can actually act is one thing, but telling a story is something else and in the first act, it appears that the Duplassí are still struggling in this area. This is one of those movies which appears to be daring us to continue watching during the first 20 minutes or so. We watch Jeff get on a bus, follow a stranger, and play basketball, while we are left to wonder what in the world is going on. This is paired with footage of Pat and Linda arguing. Things certainly look grim. However, once Pat and Jeff meet up, the movie rights itself. The story becomes a mixture of buddy comedy, dysfunctional family drama, all with elements of somewhat whimsical movie. Jeff is obsessed with the movie Signs and he lets symbols and coincidences guide his day. The movie plays like a much smaller version of Magnolia. This may sound odd, but if you can buy the way in which serendipity guides Jeff, the story is somewhat charming. As Pat and Jeff engage on their adventure, they learn about themselves and their relationship. My only real issue with Jeff Who Lives at Home is that it isnít very funny. There are some humorous moments, but given the actors involved one would expect it to be funnier. The movie does present some moments which were clearly meant to be funny, but they fall flat. Fortunately, the more bittersweet elements do work.
With Jeff Who Lives at Home, the Duplass Brothers move from making movies that barely exist to a genuine small movie. This film tells a small story with just a few characters, but it does provide some movies which will make you smile. The movie gets off to a rocky start and if you are looking for deep characters, youíll be disappointed. However, the movie shows that the Duplassí have learned that the audience feeling something for and with the characters is important.
Jeff Who Lives at Home uses the word Kevin way too much on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image is nicely detailed and we get the appropriate level of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. Being a dry dramedy, we don't get a lot of dynamic audio effects here until the finale. The stereo effects are adequate and there are some good surround sound effects during the street scenes. The finale offers some mild subwoofer effects which add to the scene.
The Jeff Who Lives at Home Blu-ray Disc contains no special features.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long