I saw a movie last week that surprised me.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” wasn’t my first choice, or anything I had even heard of when it was suggested to me on a dreary, chilly Sunday. I wanted to see 21 Jump Street, as I had heard it was good. (I have since seen it, and plan to review it here, too, so stay tuned!)
All I knew about “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” besides the fact it starred the guy from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (Jason Segel) and the guy from “The Office”, (Ed Helms) was that it’s about a guy in his thirties who lives with his mother and doesn’t do much. This simple description left me with the impression that it would be one of those comedies, with tons of laughter spread over an interesting plot like frosting over the delicious strawberry cupcakes my sister made for Easter yesterday. (I am still recovering from my sugar and ham binge…worth it.)
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that before watching “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” I expected to laugh a lot before a predictable ending that included Jeff learning about life and finally leaving the nest. I was completely wrong.
The movie begins with Jeff being asked to run an errand for his mother (Susan Sarandon) and progresses as it takes him on a trail to find his destiny. Not exactly what I was expecting, to say the least. Meanwhile, he helps his brother (Ed Helms) try to figure out if his wife (Judy Greer) is cheating on him.
While there were parts of the movie that I did laugh, this was not the movie’s main focus, but rather part of a larger puzzle. In fact, it is a movie that explores emotions of all kind: Anger, resentment, tension. It explores differences in personality and the way in which these personalities interact with each other. It deals with real issues that real people can relate to, and it also teaches it’s OK to laugh at things along the way.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” did not simply make me laugh. It made me laugh, cry, and truly think about life. It did not rely on easy punch lines or predictable situations to provoke emotion. Its simplicity and amazing performances by both Segel and Helms made the storyline engaging and relatable. I absolutely loved it. I loved the camera-work, the music, the acting performances, and the story.
But what I loved the most? That I was pleasantly surprised. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” does not meet expectations. It turns them upside down and exceeds them.
5 out of 5 stars.
One of my favorite aspects about the movie is how simple its take on the plot is. A serious family tragedy/flash-point is alluded to throughout the film, but it never hits it head-on or shoves an explanation down the audience’s throat.
This makes it feel more real. When dealing with real people, you have to infer their motivations and history; yuo don’t get every-thing spoon-fed like many movies do to hold the audience’s hand through the plot.
Also, the setting was great. Taking place in a nameless (as far as I could tell) suburban/incorporated-rural town, the residential and commercial districts featured felt pedestrian, uninspired, and above all REAL. They provide immediate recognition and connection with viewers.