In a weekend of film releases that vary from broad mainstream comedy to indie drama, and another Nic Cage film of dubious quality, it’s easy for a film to get lost in a weekend of “who cares”. But when the Duplass Brothers make a film, I’m going to seek it out.
In a weekend of film releases that vary from broad mainstream comedy to indie drama, and another Nic Cage film of dubious quality, it’s easy for a film to get lost in a weekend of “who cares”. But when the Duplass Brothers make a film, I’m going to seek it out. Why? Because I know that Jay and Mark Duplass are going to make something worth seeing. Jeff, Who Lives At Home, does not disappoint.
Jeff, a thirty year old living in his mother’s basement, is looking for direction. When his mom sends him out on an errand, he runs into his brother and they embark on a day that could very well lead Jeff on the path to his destiny.
This is easily the kind of movie that Hollywood could screw up with big high-concept nonsense, like high-speed car chases, explosions for no reason, kooky mistaken identity, and cute, wacky, monkey pals. Any number of shenanigans could take place. But because the Duplass brothers have some degree of self-respect, and a knack for tapping into more close-to-home realistic situations, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, stays well away from all that crap, even though, this is technically their first “Hollywood” movie.
Another thing Jay and Mark Duplass have a knack for is their ability to get really organic performances from the actors. Everyone is great here: Jason Segel as the still stoner Jeff, living in his mom’s basement trying to figure out what to do with himself. And Ed Helms as Pat, Jeff’s brother, dealing with a now struggling marriage to Linda, played by the always good Judy Greer. And Jeff and Pat’s mother, Susan Saranadon, now a single mom after her husband passed away, she is now trying to figure out the whole idea of dating again. Each of them plays as a real person as opposed to a written character in a comedy sketch or an SNL movie ABOUT characters in a sketch. They are all three dimensional, and they seem real. This is just one thing the Duplass brings to the table in their films. But it’s a big thing.
And it’s not just drama, it IS funny. Jeff’s mom sends him on an errand to get some wood glue to fix something in the house and while on his journey, he is side-tracked by something he takes as a “sign”, and eventually bumps into his brother, Pat. After some amusing mishaps, Pat sees his wife with another man and the suspicions begin, and a day of misfortunes, realizations, and revelations unfolds. There’s plenty of funny in this film, along with the drama. But best of all, it all plays out just right. Like just when you think they’re going to go big broad Hollywood comedy, they pull it back in and keep it more real.
Jay and Mark Duplass make films you want to see, even if you don’t know it at first. I have enjoyed The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and Cyrus. I recommend them all, and I recommend Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which is indeed their most “Hollywood” film, but the way Hollywood should be making them.
It’s an easy four ktitenhands here, folks. Go see something good in the theater this month. Hey, it’s this, John Carter, or yet another Nic Cage debacle, called Seeking Justice. Believe me, Jeff, Who Lives At Home is your best bet by far.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, happy to see these film makers streak of good films is still intact.