Another wonderfully unclassifiable tragidramedy (or something like that) from the Duplass brothers, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is quiet, dreamy and full of possibility. In fact, the possibility of possibility is what the movie is all about.
Jason Segel plays the title role, the 30-year-old denizen of his mother’s basement (we learn that Jeff’s dad died while he was a teen). Though certainly a stereotype, Jeff is – thanks to Segel – also a fully realized personality. He may be in the basement, but Jeff is desperate for direction. He’s so lost, so lonely, he reads tea leaves in everything from infomercials to M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.
Indeed, Jeff wants to greet his destiny so badly that when someone mistakenly dials his number and asks for Kevin, he reads it as a sign. So when he’s pushed out of the house by his mother (Susan Sarandon) to run an errand, he ends up following a teen with “Kevin” printed on his jersey, which in turn leads to a series of mishaps that ultimately involve Jeff’s jerky older brother, Pat (Ed Helms), and Pat’s wife, Linda (Judy Greer).
The cast is excellent, as they tend to be in Duplass films (Baghead, Cyrus). As the bullied and grasping Linda, Greer has a blistering speech that skewers obliviously domineering husbands everywhere. Sarandon, as the brothers’ mom, gets a lovely little subplot that could be a short film of its own. Filing away another day in her cubicle, she’s startled by a paper airplane that lands on her keyboard. A rose is printed inside; flirtatious instant messages follow. Should she take the leap and respond?
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a bit like that paper airplane; a sweet, surprising gesture. This movie doodle does little more than argue in favor of putting yourself out there, of taking chances, even if it leads somewhere unpleasant (Jeff pays a price for following that first Kevin). The destination doesn’t matter, the film argues. It’s the spirit of adventure that counts. And that spirit can be had whether you live in a mansion of your own making, work in a cubicle or live in the basement of your mother’s house.