Written and Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a small, intimate film about a family floating in different directions in life, unhappy, insecure, indifferent. It’s like they are just waiting around for their lives to kick into gear. Susan Sarandon is the mother, and Jason Segel and Ed Helms are her two grown sons.
This type of movie is right up my alley. I was anticipating this for some time now.
And yet, it didn’t work for me at all.
Segel and Sarandon are perfectly pleasant and charming here, but whenever Helms shows up and does/says something stupid, the film grinds to a halt. Whenever the plot depends on sloppy coincidences to bring our family together, my heart just sinks. And don’t get me started with that maudlin climax. Those tears were not earned. Every emotion was forced, fake and false.
For a play on alliteration, this is the perfect opportunity to slap this film with an F, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Segel and Sarandon are just too good. Segel brings a sweet naïveté to his role as a simple man in need of some guidance. I’m a longtime fan of his, and he can clearly carry a film. And Sarandon, lovelier and graceful than ever, kind of feels like she’s in an entirely different movie. Her office romance felt as contrived as the rest of the film, but the camera simply loves her. She’s so easy on the eyes.
So thank Segel and Sarandon, breaths of fresh air, for keeping Jeff, Who Lives at Home from completely sinking to the bottom of the bay.