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Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012)

| March 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Some people have a theory that there is no such thing as coincidence; that everything that happens in life happens for one reason or another.  Maintaining that state of mind, I would imagine, requires constant frustrating vigilance.  You’re always on the lookout for what connects one thing to another.

Jeff (Jason Segal), the protagonist of Jeff Who Lives at Home thinks that way.  He has plenty of time.  He is just past 30, unemployed, lives in his mother’s basement, smokes pot and hasn’t had a girlfriend since high school.  He watches the 2002 thriller Signs over and over again to reiterate his theory that nothing just happens, not even when he gets a phone call from a guy asking for someone named Kevin.  Out on an errand for his mother, Jeff spots a guy with the name Kevin on the back of his jersey and follows him.  It doesn’t go well.Jeff has a brother Pat who is even more clueless.  He is floating through a marriage to Linda (Judy Greer) that is going nowhere in particular.  She wants to save money for a house, but he spends it on expensive things, like the Porsche he just bought because it was such a great deal.  He makes her breakfast to break the news of his purchase and her response is to dump her breakfast on the hood.

After Jeff’s unfortunate run-in with Kevin, he runs into Pat (though not by coincidence) and the two spot Linda getting into a car with another man.  Thus sets off a day of free-wheeling misadventures as they try to uncover the mystery of whether or not she is cheating on him.  Pat is angry and wants to know who the mystery man is, while Jeff’s eye is constantly following the signs to find out the meaning of “Kevin”.  No points for guessing that this will eventually lead to something.

Meanwhile, Pat and Jeff’s widowed mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) works in an office cubicle and begins receiving instant messages from a secret admirer.  The messages are sweet and clever and she becomes intrigued.  Discovering the identity of the mystery person isn’t that difficult.  All you have to do is to follow the economy of characters in that office and you’ll figure it out long before it is revealed.

These three elements: Jeff’s search for Kevin, Pat and Linda’s marriage and Sharon’s secret admirer lead up to a scene that brings them all together at the same place at the same time.  Cosmically, there is a reason to this, so that all the characters can have closure to their individual problems.  Although the revelation doesn’t have as much meaning as we might hope.  It is interesting how the movie gets the characters to that spot, but that’s about it.

There are two scenes in the movie that work perfectly, first is the scene when Pat finally confronts Linda about the other man.  They have an argument that is full of truth and really seems to come out of reality.  The other is the discovery of Sharon’s secret admirer.  What comes of it is briefly touching, but the movie moves past it so quickly that it feels like a loose end.

Jeff Who Lives at Home is a nice, sweet movie of no real significance.  It is appropriately funny when it needs to be; dramatic when it needs to be; and moving when the need arises.  The disappointment is that it doesn’t really go over the top with any of those things. I like it when a movie really reaches for something, but this movie climbs to the peak and reveals nothing surprising on the other side.  I enjoyed the movie while I was watching it, but it isn’t one that I am going to carry with me.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2012) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy, Drama