Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer
Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Rating: R
Jason Segel has always been in my top 5 celebrity crushes, but with each role I see him in, he inches closer and closer to the top. (Don’t worry, Leo, you’ll always be the king of my world. Unless you keep dating 22 year olds. Seriously, stop.) I got attached to Jason on “Freaks and Geeks,” went head over heels for him on “How I Met Your Mother,” and fell hardcore in love with him in “I Love You, Man.” The characters he plays, though all very similar, always have a little something that distinguishes them from one another, but it’s the sensitive, carefree spirit that gets me every time. In “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon are a powerful trio that deliver subtly comedic and heartfelt performances. We’re just along for the ride for much of the film, which culminates with a climax that is worth every step of the way.

Jeff is a 30-year-old stoner who lives in his mom’s basement, and has an unhealthy obsession with the movie “Signs.” A real winner. His widowed mother and eager-to-please brother think his “everything happens for a reason” attitude is ridiculous and unrealistic, and they write him off as hopeless, but what begins as a rather uneventful day takes Jeff on a fortuitous and fateful journey.

Ed Helms steers away from slapstick Andy Bernard on “The Office,” and I was thankful to see another side of him. It wasn’t a stretch to view him as Pat, a 33-year-old on the verge of depression with a dysfunctional marriage to the always lovely Judy Greer. Her powerful role in “The Descendants” and her equally heartbreaking performance in this film prove she’ll be around for a long time. As a wife who feels she’s never listened to or understood, she inches further and further away from Pat, and perhaps right into the arms of another man.

A playful side story brings light to a mundane cubicle world. Susan Sarandon gives a quiet but beautiful performance as Sharon, a woman trying to raise two equally disturbed sons, all the while being pursued by a secret office admirer. Her fun and playful confidante is Rae Dawn Chong (whom I haven’t seen since “Commando”!) This story plays out in an unexpected way, but gives Sharon a new outlook on life, and we know she won’t have office woes for a long time.

I don’t think the audience is supposed to be disgusted with Jeff and his breezy, goal-less attitude towards his day-to-day life, but if we are, I sure wasn’t. Though it may be because I was so smitten with him. I suppose I would classify this film as a dark comedy - there are some laughs in scenes which depict reality, however dark it might be. And in the final scene, Jeff will definitely be glad he left home – it’s intensely moving.

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