Jeff Who Lives At Home, is a predictably quirky, left-field slacker comedy. Written and directed by comedy duo Jay and Mark Duplass, the film reflects their trademark indie-spirited humour, and is in parts mildly reminiscent of their (much funnier and breakthrough) 2010 comedy, Cyrus.
The eponymous Jeff (Jason Segel) is 30, he lives at home in his mother’s basement and has no job, no girlfriend, nor any of the modern hallmarks of a successful well-adjusted man. Totally lacking in earthly ambition, Jeff believes that he has a true destiny and maintains a vigilant lookout for cosmic signs directing him towards his true calling. But when his mother Carol (Susan Sarandon) forces him to leave the house on an errand, he bumps into his far less divinely-inspired brother, Pat (Ed Helms), and the two soon find themselves embroiled in an unexpected adventure. Although Jeff’s innocent, childlike worldview initially clashes with Pat’s more pragmatic concerns the two brothers bond while attempting to spy on Pat’s seemingly adulterous wife.
The problem with this movie is that Jeff is really rather annoying. His naïve, happy-go-lucky insistence that the universe has a divine plan he must follow becomes cloying within 20 minutes, and were it not for the magnificent Susan Sarandon on top form as his lonely put-upon mother, and Helms in the supporting role as the more grounded Pat, the film would be unwatchably saccharine.
So it’s just as well that Jeff Who Lives At Home is brief. At 84 minutes it feels remarkably like an extended episode of a good sitcom. The laughs are reasonably regular and there is some real truth in its more bittersweet moments. Its pared down cinematography even closely resembles the mockumentary style employed in TV shows like The Office. The fact that it is reminiscent of a TV show does not make the film any less entertaining but it does mean that it lacks a cinematic feel, making it difficult to take seriously as a feature-length film.