‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’ opens with a delicate Jason Segel speaking into a tape recorder, having watched the film Signs again. He states that upon his first viewing the film it is hard to understand and it ‘meanders’ along, before all coming together in one perfect moment at the end. Segal also comments that after he has now had multiple viewings of the film, it has become ever better and more important to him. This is certainly similar to the impact the Dulpass Brothers ideally wanted their movie to be received.
The lullaby-esque music of the opening credits sets a calm, serene scene, one where little matters and little goes on. Segel’s stoner lay-about Jeff, who unsurprisingly lives at home, does little and cares about little. However, to Jeff every coincidence, every mild occurrence has the utmost importance in terms of fate, which Jeff lives by. This is stark contrast to his brother Pat, played by The Office (US)’s Ed Helms, whose existence revolves around the tension with his wife, his Porsche and Hooters. Whereas Jeff seemingly has no life problems, other than his existential crisis, his brother certainly does. Pat’s troubles intertwine with Jeff’s obsession with the interconnected as the odd couple track Pat’s potentially adulterous wife. These two dysfunctional brothers are far from close but are both linked by their strained mother Sharon, acted by Susan Sarandon.
The film meanders in large part, moving cautiously between one interaction and another. This is most evident in Sarandon’s sub-plot in which she tentatively prods at the secret love connection and her conflicting emotions toward it. Sarandon is a bright light, overshadowing the deadbeat Segal and obnoxious Helms. Their performances are well crafted and their changes are real, but their characters feel more two-dimensional and unlikable than Sarandon’s character and her powerful transformation.
The Dulpass Brothers almost succeed. The film ambles up to its powerful conclusion but doesn’t quite reach the importance it is reaching for. It deals well with the strains between the two brothers and the change in relationship between them as their journey unfolds. It professes that life is a personal experience, one that should be full of personal importance be that Jeff’s following of fate or Sharon allowing herself a new happiness.
In short, ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’ works (just not in the literal sense) and gets a pleasant ★ ★ ★
Quite an extensive trailer, showing almost the whole film. Only watch this is you aren’t planning on watching the film.