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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Jeff (Jason Segel) is a 30-year-old pothead loser with no job who lives in his mother’s basement. His obsession with the movie Signs leads him to look for the mysterious connections in seemingly chance occurrences. His brother Pat (Ed Helms) is a salesman in a failing marriage pushed to the brink by his ill-considered purchase of a Porsche. Their mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) is a lonely woman wondering if she has any adventures left in life.

Through a series of unbelievable and at times unconvincing coincidences, the film brings this family to a moment of quite literal crisis, and their actions lead them to a better understanding of each other.

Though all the principal performances, including supporting turns from Judy Greer and Rae Dawn Chong, are very good, the movie itself can’t escape it’s too slight frame. The script from Mark and Jay Duplass piles coincidence upon coincidence on the story in an effort to give their narrative greater heft than it can bear. The result is that an otherwise smart film is burdened by a mish-mashed message of feel-good New Age tripe that overlooks or excuses all of its characters serious flaws in the name of a happy ending.

It’s a shame really, since the concept is a fairly appealing one. A slacker finds redemption through helping his brother deal with the collapse of his marriage. The finale is also surprising and quite emotional. But upon a minute’s consideration, the trappings of the movie are troublesome enough to dampen one’s enjoyment of the film considerably.

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