Sean K. Cureton

The Duplass Brothers’ Follow Up to Cyrus

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on March 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Theatrical Poster

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
3 out of 4 stars
Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass

Jeff, Who Lives at Home marks the fourth directorial release from the Duplass Brothers, who began their career with the 2005 indie flick The Puffy Chair, and whose last released film was Cyrus in 2010. Like Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home further establishes the Duplass Brothers as an indie film making team who seem to benefit from being able to have access to more money and a big name cast.

Jeff is a movie that contains a plot structure not all that different from 2005’s Puffy Chair, as it too is wonderfully offbeat and quirky in the way it deals with its very normal characters living in a very average day-to-day existence. The film centers its focus on the relationship between Jeff, played by Jason Segel, and Pat, played by Ed Helms, who are two somewhat estranged brothers. Over the course of the film, Jeff and Pat become closer, and explore the ways in which each of them falls short in life in the other’s eyes. By the end of the film, Jeff and Pat seem to be closer than they have ever been before, and this is all done in a way that, while being clichéd and maybe a little manipulative, still feels realistic and heart warming.

Jason Segel and Ed Helms provide such realism and heart in their two roles, that one is automatically drawn into the fairly formulaic story from the start. Segel’s Jeff is kind and a little bit spacey and Helm’s Pat is shortsighted and short-tempered, which allows these two actor’s performances to work so well together, as each character is more or less an antagonist and an ally for the other. Even when Pat’s hostile behavior drives Jeff away from him, Jeff’s kindness and brotherly bond continues to draw him back into Pat’s life over the course of the day that this comedy takes place in. Aside from the star performances, Susan Sarandon plays an interestingly conflicted widow and mother of Jeff and Pat, whose inner struggle over finding someone to be happy with for the rest of her life is a delight to watch in its understated presentation within the film, and Judy Greer’s portrayal of a wounded wife to Helm’s Pat is expertly done.

The Duplass Brothers’ Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a comedy that has long been missing in theatres for a while now. With all of the crude and crass comedies overloaded with sexual innuendos and foul-mouthed characters, it’s a relief to a see a film that’s funny in its simplicity and honest rendering of its highly relatable characters. Jeff is a film that should be seen by film comedians like Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who continue to think that being as disgustingly vulgar as possible will only make you funnier. If more blockbuster comedies were to take a hint from the Duplass Brothers’ comedic sensibility, there might just be more comedies getting recognition come awards season.


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