A sort of companion piece to Solondz’s DARK HORSE, the Duplass’ JEFF film is about quirky, dysfunctional family dynamics and the maturation of a man-child as he emerges decades late from under the wings of his mother (Susan Sarandon).
As the title indicates, Jeff (Jason Segel) has never really made anything of himself, save for a penchant for weed smoking and watching copious amounts of television. Jeff’s brother (Ed Helms) has carved out a middle class niche, sating his own insecurities by buying expensive cars he can’t afford. When Jeff sees what he considers to be a sign from the universe (a sign named “Kevin”) he sets off on a kind of metaphysical quest, wandering through the suburbs in search for meaning in the most unusual places.
The film does a nice job of keeping its offbeat spirit without completely devolving into cliche. There’s a few slapstick moments that work better than others, and the dry, stoned delivery is a fine foil to Helm’s manic ineptitude. Sarandon’s own narrative arc seems a bit convenient, but it’s at least done with a certain amount of charm that it’s obviousness can be forgiven.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME is one of those pleasant, off-beat indie comedies that doesn’t quite have the bite of something a bit more sophisticate, but remains miles better than the usual pablum fed to the adolescent audience. Segel continues to show his chops, and while there’s little chance this will see the success that Helm’s HANGOVER inexplicably received, it’s still a fine addition to his growing film resume.