Jeff Should Have Stayed at Home

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Now on: Blu-ray, DVD

I instantly took a disliking to Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The title character played by Jason Segal is a useless stoner who could be autistic. Whether the writer meant to evoke this or that he is a free spirited dreamer is lost is unclear. Jeff is not cute and charming but overly babied with no sense of reality. His lives his life by signs. Signs that tell him what his fate is and what he should do with his life.

On his mother’s birthday, he sets out to complete a simple task of buying wood glue to fix his mother’s blinds. Jeff cannot manage this simple task. Instead he is sidetracked by a wrong number looking for someone named Kevin. He sees this as a sign, and it leads him to following someone who then corners him, beats him up and steals his money. He continues to follow these flimsy signs thought out the movie bring us to a climax that, while heroic, is not practical. This ultimate event is situational and does not lead to any kind of long term plan for his life.

The movie tries to be whimsical but fails. The subtle and dark humor misses its mark because of its absurdity and mishandling. Segal’s character is neither funny nor charming but is pathetic and/or developmentally delayed (and there is no funny in that).

Even the side story with Susan Sarandon is suppose to be an adventure with love, but is too superficial. The movie doesn’t have the time or the skill to deal with complex relationship of the secret admirer it’s fonder for its own full length movie as long as it’s not written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. The best part of the movie is the secondary story of Jeff’s brother and sister in law. Ed Helms and Judy Greer are fabulous as a married couple who are dealing with dissolution of their marriage. Greer and Helms get to use their dramatic chops and it shows their range as actors.

The camera work is amateurish. With quick zooms and sloppy cuts, it distracts from the story. The handy came is nauseating, and I would have donated money for the camera man to buy a tri-pod. While the handicam can work with certain movies like the Hunger Games giving it a documentary feel, it has no place in this familial drama.

Attempting to do so much, Jeff, Who Lives At Home fails on every account. It’s looses whimsy to drama and drama to absurdity.