Jeff, Who Lives at Home is the most mainstream offering yet from the brothers Duplass. Let no one ever tell you that mainstream inherently means less worthy. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a simple comedy, but it’s very funny and rather poignant, surprisingly so. The film also completely justifies the existence of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, which instantly makes it great.
The film begins with Jason Segal’s character, Jeff, talking about how he just watched the movie, Signs. It seems the theme of simple destiny in that movie has had a profound effect on Jeff. He has come to approach life as a sequence of events that will all work out in the end, with signs and direction to guide him along the way. Things get kicked off when Jeff gets a phone call from a man looking for somebody named Kevin. Jeff begins to fixate on the name Kevin, and then goes out, following that name wherever he sees it.
Along the way he meets up with his brother Pat, played by Ed Helms. Pat is an asshole. There’s not two ways about it. He’s an asshole, and he’s killing his marriage from the inside out. Jeff and Pat are out in the town when they notice Pat’s wife out with another man. Pat gets Jeff to help him spy on her. Hilarity, of course, ensues.
Meanwhile, the guys’ mother, Sharon, played by Susan Sarandon, is at work, frustrated with her sons and her life, and she starts getting IMs on her computer from somebody claiming to be a secret admirer. Through the day she tries to figure out who the admirer is.
Everything comes together in a nicely perfect way, confirming Jeff’s feeling about the movie, Signs. But all three characters come to understand that they cannot simply let life lead them on random paths. They need to take action. This all happens in a fairly beautiful scene that could be seen by some as too pat, but then, that’s kind of the point.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a very funny movie. It’s got great characters, all acted very well by an able cast. And the film is actually very moving as well. What more could you ask for in a small modern comedy?