Another movie, another story about a loveable loser.
Jeff Who Lives At Home has the distinction, however, of actually being quite likeable – even loveable. What sets this apart from other movies about similarly forlorn adults is the idea that some who seem lost are not nearly so lost as they’ve been led to believe. If only they could believe it themselves!
At first I was kind of confused by the title. “Jeff Who Lives At Home”? Where else is he going to live? Doesn’t everyone live at home? Oh, he’s a hapless loser? Okay, now I get it.
Here we have Jeff (Jason Segal) who is 30, single, and living in his mother’s basement where he spends most of his time obsessing over the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs which he thinks holds the key to the Universe. That key, he believes, is that transformative coincidences are occurring around all of us all of the time, and the only thing one needs is to pay attention to the right coincidence to achieve existential lift off.
Sure, except that “loser” Jason has a “settled” brother Pat (Ed Helms) who has all the conventional trappings of success (career, marriage, family, real estate) but whose life is pretty darn lifeless. His wife doesn’t get him and he doesn’t get her because, well, no one is getting any getting in this story.
Jason and Pat have a mother named Sharon (Susan Sarandon) who finally demands that Jeff leave her basement . . . but there is a condition first: Jeff will have to fix her kitchen shutter and then commence with life as an adult. What, mother? You’re going to ask me to work? Now?
The movie works for a variety of reasons (its fun and funny and all too relatable in this era of boomerang youngsters who wind up living at home after college) but mostly it works because of the amazing chemistry between Segal and Sarandon. Instead of going for the cheap, easy laughs that Jeff’s situation warrants, they play it for the reality of thr situation (sometimes too real) which elicits warmth and understanding, two thing we usually don’t find in Hollywood comedies about losers.
If nothing else, you’ll laugh a lot and maybe tear up once in a while, if for no other reason than it will help you understand how and why your mother suffered all the indignities that you and the universe colluded to inflict upon her.
That Universe is good for something, isn’t it?