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Like Cyrus, the Duplass brothers’ newest project, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, is an open and honest look at a small family unit. Unlike some of the brothers’ other projects, Jeff, Who Lives at Home only looks at one day in the life of family members Jeff, Sharon, and Pat. Despite having only a 24-hour window into the lives of the family, we still get to see their shortcomings and greatest triumphs, all wrapped into an 83-minute movie that ends with a twist.
We don’t know Jeff’s (Jason Segel) age, but he looks about thirty. We do know he has trouble figuring out what to do with himself, as his ruminations about the movie Signs and the concept of fate spoken aloud while plunked on the toilet suggest we should take him a little less than seriously. At the beginning of the day, his mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) is busy at work when she remembers an errand she needs Jeff to run. She calls to tell her son to attend to the problem, probably half-knowing her pot-smoking, errant child will never get around to fixing the broken shutter.
There is plenty of wayward movement in Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Jeff is busy wandering off task to follow a man whose fate he believes is tied to the cosmos. His brother, Pat (Ed Helms), is not doing much better: Pat is busy buying flashy possessions he can’t afford and is subsequently busy losing his wife. Neither seems to see their prospective paths as routes that need work. If this were an average day, the two brothers would likely continue on their unaware-and-absurd pathways.
However, this is not an average day. After the two brothers run into one another and see Pat’s wife, Linda (Judy Greer), in the company of another man, a chain of events is set off that might very well change the way the way the two men make decisions within their lives. Whether Linda is or is not cheating on her husband is not really at the heart of the story, it is instead a catalyst for the action, for the potential the two men have to change their broken ways. Despite this side-note importance, Greer is really wonderful in Jeff, Who Lives at Home. She shows her discontent in a way that is perhaps not admirable, but is certainly more open and heartfelt than anyone else onscreen.
On the other side of town, Sharon is still eking her way through a lengthy day at the office. It is difficult to decipher what Sharon’s storyline really has to do with the boys, other than to complain a little from a mother’s perspective and to act as a catalyst to get Jeff out of the house. Regardless, it is Sharon’s storyline that is the most intriguing. Her wandering path may simply lead to the water cooler or the bathroom, but it helps that her journey is lined with wise thoughts and even a secret admirer.
The Duplass brothers love to use characters who are a little offbeat and a little mopey, but in Jeff, Who Lives at Home they are a little less self-revelatory, and it shows in the dragging structure of the plot, despite the film’s short running time. In the end, Pat and Jeff end up redeeming themselves in a twisted little ending that may endear some and throw off others, but which ties the day into a neat little package, complete with a bow. Jeff, Who Lives at Home was the Duplass brothers’ first major studio release, and while I actually found it a little less meaningful than some of the other works by the writers, the film certainly finds a nice niche in their catalogue.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a very tricky disc to review. The picture quality of the film is fine for a low-budget movie, but you will have to give wobbly camera shots a break. The menu is pretty barren. A single picture is featured as the backdrop of the main screen.
The scenes section and the settings section are both easy to find and use, mostly due to the fact that the disc is entirely barren of extras. Duplass films are generally void of extras as it is, but they do usually feature an interview segment or something to keep the disc from looking completely empty. If you decide to buy Jeff, Who Lives at Home, you are absolutely doing it for the content of the film and not any other phooey.
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