MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★
Jeff, Who Lives At Home is one of those movies which I struggle to quite understand how it got made and signed up to a studio. Not because it’s in anyway offensive and it’s certainly not bad… it’s just rather meandering. It’s a straight down the middle, little life-lesson indie comedy. Not many laughs, nothing that particularly stands out, it just does its job in an incredibly snappy 83 minutes, without ever outstaying its welcome, whilst (nearly) always feeling perfectly likeable. As perhaps the title suggests, it just feels distinctly unremarkable.
Jason Segel plays Jeff, a bit of a stoner and waster who lives at home with his mum (Susan Sarandon). He has a distant relationship with his brother, Pat (Ed Helms), who is currently going through a crisis in his marriage, exemplified by his decision to buy a Porsche that the couple certainly cannot afford. Where Jeff’s life lacks direction, he makes up for it with a feeling that everything happens for a reason, quoting the film Signs as the basis for his philosophical worldview. Anyone who’s seen Signs will know this is a rather good gag. Jeff’s outlook on the world is actually very endearing and really that is what keeps the movie together. The brothers reluctantly try to help each other overcome their problems whilst inadvertently improving themselves as people. Meanwhile, the mother has a secret admirer at work, a subplot which really never goes anywhere but when it does go somewhere it feels completely baffling, thrown in and poorly thought through, without wanting to give anything away.
The pace of the film feels incredibly leisurely which isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own but coupled with the general lack of intensity and laugh-out-loud humour, it’s just feels very lethargic. It also tries to go for its own distinctive style with lots of close up shots of people and little zooms in which try to make the film seem ever so slightly quirky but once you start noticing it, it just feels rather irritating. There’s nothing particularly unlikeable about this film (besides perhaps the peculiar direction of the mother’s subplot) but the whole thing feels a little bit limp and I have to question just how necessary it really is? Not particularly is the answer, there’s little to remember or quote but at least it does pass the time helped by some affable characters.
Jeff, Who Lives At Home is out on 11th May in the UK. Running time 82 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank