- Plot Resolution
While the whole movie depends on the relationship between brothers Jeff (Jason Segel) and Pat (Ed Helms), it’s the involvement of Pat’s wife Linda (Judy Greer) and the boys’ mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) that really provide the story line and outlet for the boys’ personalities. At first, it seems the adult brothers have very different lives. Younger brother Jeff still lives on their mother’s couch and, after being inspired by the movie Signs, believes his destiny in life will just find him. Older brother Pat lives in a tiny apartment with his less than happily married wife, and mother Sharon works at an office in a tiny cubicle. During an outing, the brothers happen to see Pat’s wife in her car with another man. This single, not random according to Jeff, incident perpetuates a whirlwind of activities the duo become involved in while trying to catch Pat’s wife who’s possibly having an affair. Throughout the film, the once distant siblings grow closer and soon uncover the truth about Pat’s wife.
The best part of this film was easily its philosophical notions of determinism, free will, destiny and fate. Jeff plays the optimist; he doesn’t believe in coincidences and thinks everything happens for a reason. But Pat is a cynical pessimist who thinks his brothers way of life is embarrassing and quite literally, stupid, as he tells Jeff several times. Throughout the film, the yin and yang relationship of the siblings begins to deteriorate as they begin to see things from the other’s point of view. Jeff is constantly looking for his purpose in life or “destiny”. Pat is stuck in a dead end marriage and their mother is living a monotonous life since her husband passed. Despite the three characters very separate lives, we soon see that the brothers and their mother aren’t so different after all. In reality, they’re all looking for their destiny, each one trying to figure out what to do next, and how to live life.
Realistic Characters and Relationships:
It’s easy to make a picture perfect family on screen. From the Brady Bunch to The Patridge’s, there’s a bit of a stigma for the typical American family. It’s a bit more difficult to get the convincing nuances of a disgruntled and distant family to read on screen in under two hours. But in a combination of script, plot, and phenomenal acting, Jeff, Who Lives at Home gave an eerily realistic depiction of a struggling family. Jason Segel has a way of making everything he says seem so genuine and honest; he makes you feel like he’s your own brother. From his puppy dog eyes, to his calming tone of voice, I couldn’t help but empathize with Jeff despite his overall lack of contribution to society. The dynamic between Pat and his wife Linda was phenomenally spot on. Living in a generation where nearly half of the friends’ parents are divorced, the signs that something is amiss can sometimes be subtle. However, from beginning to end, even at their worst fights, there was an obvious underlying love there that never died. It was these relationship dynamics that truly made this movie successful. It’s nice to know that not all movies have to rely on crazy computer graphics or big budget locations just to tell a story.
The Short End of the Stick:
Amongst the several plots occurring throughout, the one that seemed the most over looked was that other mother Sharon. While it was obvious that she was a less than happy widow with a boring cubicle office job, I felt there could’ve been more background given as to what Sharon’s marriage to the boys’ father was like. In fact, the importance of the father was largely missing. The boys coincidentally (not according to Jeff) end up at their father’s grave and soon discuss a dream that both of them are having featuring their father. But really no other references to their relationship with their dad or their parents’ marriage is given. While the dynamic of the cast was great, I felt there was a real void in the complete family picture. Even though their father has been dead for several years, his influence should still be vital to the boys. It’s not clear how strong the relationship to their father was, or how strong a marriage their parents had.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Buy it, Rent it, Skip it:
Definitely rent this movie. It’s funny, charming and will keep you entertained and really involved with the plot. The film also has an oddly satisfying ending. The movie is definitely for a more mature audience, not because of language or sexuality, but for its story. Although the film is about a family, it’s important to remember that they are all fully grown and dealing with adult problems like careers and marriage, so it probably won’t be as appealing to a younger crowd. The movie is a bit slow at times and is very dialogue heavy, so if you’re looking for a slapstick comedy or something you don’t have to pay too much attention to, this really isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a really well made film that’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before, then Jeff, Who Lives at Home is definitely worth checking out.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home Movie Trailer: