Walking into the theater, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Despite being excellently cast (the movie stars Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, and Judy Greer), the general premise for the film left me expecting to be underwhelmed. As the introduction credits began, however, I relaxed into my seat and pleasantly went along for the ride.
Jeff (played by Segel) is a thirty year old dreamer who lives in his mother’s basement. As the movie begins, we learn that Jeff likes to smoke weed and is a big believer that life is made up of a series of signs that point toward destiny. When Jeff receives a call from someone who has clearly dialed the wrong number and is looking for Kevin, Jeff starts to follow the dominoes he hopes will lead him to his destiny.
On the way, Jeff helps his brother Pat (Helms), who has no belief in fate or signs, as Pat attempts to hold together his marriage to Linda (Greer). Their mother Sharon (Sarandon) has her own story playing in the background, one that echos the lost hopes of a woman who raised two very different sons in the wake of losing a beloved spouse. These three seemingly opposing visions of life, as viewed through the eyes of Jeff, Pat, and Sharon, meld together at the end, resembling the synchronicity Jeff has so desperately been yearning to experience.
Rather than drawing from the film the idea that signs and destiny are inevitable, however, I found myself walking away with quite a different vision than that of Jeff, Pat, or Sharon. The movie seemed instead to express the notion that life is not a series of signs, but a series of opportunities. Each opportunity presents itself before us as a way through which we can alter our lives for the better or for the worse. It seemed to say that each of us is responsible for recognizing those opportunities and accepting the challenge to use them to affect the world positively.
Beyond the insightful morals and head-turning plot twists, Sharon’s storyline most definitely does not end up as you might imagine. Besides being unpredictable, it was also incredibly funny. With a cast including Segel, Helms, and Greer, it would have been near impossible to expect anything less than excellent humor. Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (Scrapple and The Puffy Chair) worked together to write and direct this film. While it might not have been a unique and incredible tale for the ages, they are certainly a duo to look to in the future for comedic dramas.
Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Especially in this day and age, when there are more than a few people moving back in with parents to save money, it is nice to think that all of these bumps in the road are there for a reason. It could be that each pothole is an extra second keeping us from getting blindsided by another car running the red light ahead. Perhaps each person who leaves our lives is simply making room for someone more important to fill in. And maybe – just maybe – there are signs and opportunities waiting for us to find them in order to fulfill our destiny.
Review By: Alexandra Pauley