Movie Review - Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Mark Duplass and his brother Jay Duplass wrote and directed Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Going all the way back to the beginnings of filmmaking with Auguste and Louis Lumière, brothers have always worked together to make movies, and there seems to be filmmaking brothers in all of the various genres who specialize in certain types of films. The Coen Brothers provide quirky comedies or revenge/heists-gone-wrong movies. The Wachowskis (formerly brothers, now brother and sister) do action films. The Maysles do documentaries. The Hughes do urban dramas. The Farrellys do raunchy comedies and the Dardenne Brothers do intimate narratives. Now, the Duplass Brothers, if you read the article about them in The New York Times, do independent dramedies, half-way between Mumblecore and mainstream.

Jason Segel (I Love You, Man and The Muppets) stars as Jeff, a 30-year-old pot-smoker. He doesn't have a job or any prospects of getting one. He lives in the basement of his mother's house. His mother is Sharon Thompkins, played by Susan Sarandon. Jeff likes the movie Signs by M. Night Shyamalan. Not only does he like the movie, he believes that there are signs, cosmological or spiritual signs, that manifest on Earth that people need to recognize and use to guide their lives to their destinies. In this one particular day, he's going to put that theory to the test. Instead of doing what his mother wants, which is fix the shutter on a door, Jeff decides to chase a series of signs that start with a wrong phone call.

Ed Helms (The Office and The Hangover) co-stars as Pat, Jeff's older brother who is a businessman in Louisiana. At the start of the day, he surprises his wife, Linda, played by Judy Greer, with a new Porsche. Greer is probably the only actor here who was actually featured in a Shyamalan film The Village. Greer was also featured in the Oscar-winning The Descendants, opposite George Clooney. Some critics pushed for Greer to get a nomination and she proves why again here. Pat and Linda have a fundamental communication and connection problem.

As the day progresses, Jeff and Pat crash into each other as well as other things. When they do, it just ends up being comedy gold every time, starting with their first encounter. I'm not sure if it was improvised because the Duplass brothers do like to employ that, but the one-liners that come flying out are hilarious. But, while they completely get the comedy right, the Duplass brothers also know how to weave-in the dramatic moments very well.

Sarandon's role for example could have been just a nice cameo, but the Duplass brothers actually give her something to do. There is a little bit of mystery surrounding Sharon's work-life. The only complaint is that it's rather predictable and gives a little bit of an allusion to Thelma & Louise. I didn't mind it because it builds to a beautiful moment to which I'll refer as "kissing under waterfalls."

I had a bit of an issue at first with all the shaky cam and the constant zoom-ins, but I was so taken by the performances, even from small roles like Evan Ross and Rae Dawn Chong, that I forgave it. Duplass regular, Steve Zissis, pops up. The ending had some people rolling their eyes, but I think it was perfect because Jeff prevents a loss from happening to someone, a loss that he couldn't prevent for himself. It was a perfect emotional beat to close Jeff's bong-inspired, Yoda-defending, people-following day.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language including sexual references and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 22 mins.


  1. Had it’s moments where it was funny and well-acted, but then the script starts to seem a little too lazy when it relies on dumb foreshadowing and melodrama that doesn’t work all that well in a film that seems like it’s a bit too realistic. Good review Marlon. The performances saved this one for me though.


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