So many movies that feature a slacker as a main character wind up being one-dimensional and disappointing. Really, how many pot jokes can you do and still expect a laugh? Happily, the new comedy/drama, "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" has depth, emotion and some very funny scenes.
Jason Segel from the TV series "How I Met Your Mother" stars as Jeff, a 30-year-old man still living at home in Louisiana. To say he's unmotivated would be an understatement. He begins what will be a very eventful day by taking a bong hit, and then receiving a phone call from an irate man looking for someone named Kevin. During the next few hours, he sees that name pop up in a number of places, convincing him that destiny has some kind of plan for him.
We also meet his brother Pat, played by Ed Helms of TV's "The Office" as well as the "Hangover" movies. Pat is the complete opposite of Jeff. He works for a paint company and is driven to project a successful image. We first see him as he devastates his wife (Judy Greer from "The Descendants") by telling her he's bought a new Porsche with the money she thought they were saving to buy a house.
The two brothers connect during the day, with Helms at first showing nothing but contempt for his sibling. He ridicules Jeff's conviction that fate has them on a mission.
Rounding out the main characters is their mom, played by Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon. The widow works in a big office, sitting in a cubicle. She vents her frustration about her sons to co-worker Rae Dawn Chong (remember her from the Schwarzenegger film "Commando"?) but finds her life suddenly exciting again as she receives anonymous instant messages from a secret admirer in the office.
All the performances in this movie are very strong. Segel plays Jeff as almost a naïve innocent who matures before our eyes. Helms proves he has range as an actor as he slowly makes the transformation from obnoxious husband and brother to a desperate man trying to salvage his marriage. (The scenes where the brothers execute an ill-fated plan to follow Helms' wife are hilarious.)
Sarandon, as always, is wonderful. She demonstrates an endearing girlish quality as she excitedly tries to discover the identity of her admirer. As for Greer: she's one of those actresses who has been in so many movies and TV shows (she plays Ashton Kutcher's ex-wife on "Two and Half Men") but whose name isn't a household word yet. She always delivers great performances, and this movie is no exception. The scene in which she voices her long-simmering frustration to Helms is both agonizingly sad and moving.
"Jeff, Who Lives at Home" was written and directed by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass who previously did the film "Cyrus" with Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly. They've done a masterful job with this movie, delivering a touching and satisfying ending that takes the story full circle. This is an uplifting film that's well worth seeing.