The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives At Home

An indie comedy with a quirky side if there ever was, 2011's Jeff, Who Lives At Home was made for about $10 million (where that money went I can't figure out) and made a little over $4 million. This was not a movie that was meant to make a whole lot of money though. Just sit back and enjoy this one, a solid, ultra-quirky comedy that avoids being too cute.

A 30-year old without a job, Jeff (Jason Segel) lives at home with his mom, Sharon (Susan Sarandon), in her basement, rarely venturing outside. Jeff is looking for answers about life of some sort, looking for a connection between possibly very different events. On this day, all he has to do is complete a simple errand for his mom, but it ain't going to be that easy. On his way to the store, Jeff takes a detour that will take him away from his seemingly simple objective. Along the way, he'll continually run into his brother, Pat (Ed Helms), who's wondering if his wife is cheating on him, and Sharon will have to deal with a secret admirer at work. Maybe....just maybe, those three paths will cross.

I will say this and get it out of the way. I completely understand the people/viewers/critics who didn't like this flick. Jeff is a huge fan of the M. Night Shyamalan flick, Signs, a story with seemingly random events that end up meaning something in the finale. Jeff is looking for those type of answers. Why does stuff happen in life? Are we drifting along aimlessly, deciding or our own fate, or is there a deeper purpose? Because of that, the story has its fair share of coincidences along the way. Jeff runs into Pat out of the blue on several different occasions, Pat runs into his wife, Linda (Judy Greer), by dumb luck. In bringing it all together, it can get a little cutesy at times.

Go figure then because I liked it. I understand the cutesy factor, but it never goes too far for me. I tend to disagree with the basic assumption that everything is connected, or that something happens because it "should" happen. But avoiding the whole 'let's not get too philosophical' thing here -- fate, destiny, predestination -- I went along for the ride. It's entertaining/interesting seeing Jeff looking for those answers. Early in the morning -- the whole story takes place over a single day -- he receives a wrong number call, an angry man asking for "bleeping Kevin." Jeff spends much of the rest of the day trying to find an odd connection to a 'Kevin,' and wouldn't you know it? There is a connection in a surprisingly moving ending.

With three key lead performances, Segel, Helms and Sarandon don't disappoint. I'm a fan of Segel from How I Met Your Mother (among other shows), but I very much liked his titular character, Jeff. It would be easy to dislike him -- a 30-year old jobless man with no real motivation -- but Segel is so realistically endearing that I couldn't help but like him as he searches for the universe's answers. Helms does a good job early making Pat about as idiotic/moronic as possible, but the character comes around, especially in his scenes with Jeff as his predicament develops. Sarandon's performance is fine, but the story/character arc is pretty lousy on the ridiculous meter. Greer is a scene-stealer as Pat's wife and also look for Rae Dawn Chong as one of Sharon's co-workers.

Not much else to add here. I don't think there's going to be much middle ground here. Like it or hate it, and it's going to depend on whether you can go along with the story. I didn't think I would, but it's that type of quirky, but low-key, character driven story that I liked a lot. And if you don't? It's 82 minutes long and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home <---trailer (2011): ***/***

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