Jason Segel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon go mumblecore in this Duplass Brothers comedy, and the results are dreadful....
Paramount / 83 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: June 19, 2012
A patently, often disarmingly bad comedy, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a nightmarish waste of starpower and talent. It is quite clear from the movie's opening lines of dialogue - that confirm the titular character's (Jason Segel's) affinity for the M. Night Shyamalan Signs - that this is no mere mumblecore indie comedy: it's a godforsaken train wreck. Segel's effortless puppydog charisma is of course in prime display (it's been a while since a schlub dressed in a hoodie and shorts has appeared this somehow gentlemanly on screen), but Jay Duplass' and Mark Duplass' is still a full-on-idle atrocity of a comedy.
In addition to, of course, living at home - and don't forget the obsession with Signs - Jeff finds himself helping out his semi-estranged brother Pat (Ed Helms), a 'respectable' member of society who starts the film as a dude with a brand new car and a lady on his arm (Judy Greer), but quickly comes to find that this wife of his might be having an affair. There are attempts at subterfuge, the new car comes to a bad, bad end, and even the brothers' mom (Susan Sarandon) learns something about herself and how a co-worker of hers feels about her in an unsuspected fashion.
Yet any kind of plot synopsis is all but completely unimportant to a mumblecore flick like this one. Any self-respecting modern comedy fan can't help but at least chortle at Helms and Segel as they go about their mediocre business in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, but even at a scant 83 minutes, the movie does nothing, says nothing, and offers nothing with such heinous vacancy that it seems like that running time is doubled in some parts. There is certainly humorous material to be mined in the fringes outside the norms of plot-driven adult comedy, but none of Jeff, Who Lives at Home gains any traction.
What we have here is a movie with big stars, one with a handful of film festival presentations under its arm that arrives on high-def with a disappointing thud. There are occasional sparkles of potential in almost every scenario, but the folks behind Jeff, Who Lives at Home seem oddly hellbent on subverting any opportunity for obvious comedy, instead retreating to the corners of this movie's woefully undernourished plot construction in attempt to ruminate in its own mumblecore funk.