Slowly, but surely, the writing and directing duo known as the Duplass brothers have been making a unique impression on the movie world. Brothers Jay and Mark (who's most known for his role as Pete on the FX television show The League) first broke through the barrier in 2008 with their successful throwback to the comedy-horror genre called Baghead. Then, their follow up feature in 2010 came in the form of the comedy Cyrus. Both films, slightly awkward but carrying a sense of earnest realism, helped to define their original style. Now, in 2012 the Duplass brothers offer up their third release called Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Staying true to their roots, Jeff is yet another strange blend of real life emotion and unusual characters.
Jeff (played by Segel) is a pot smoking slacker still living in his mother's basement. Searching for a sense of meaning to life ever since the passing of his father, Jeff can't help but wonder about his destiny. When Jeff's mom Sharon (played by Sarandon) asks him to do a simple task, Jeff sets out on a wild adventure around Baton Rouge following so-called "signs". Along the way he runs into his brother Pat (played by Helms) who's facing a marital meltdown. Believing that there's a bigger picture behind all of this, Jeff attempts to help save his brother's marriage and finally unlock his destiny.
With their most resonating and successful release to date, the Duplass brothers use Jeff as a platform to conjure up a poignant and heartfelt experience. I've always enjoyed how Jay and Mark seem to have their films come full circle in a convincing fashion. Once again, the writers/directors leave no loose ends in what will surely be one of 2012's most fulfilling features. At the center of this genuine little gem is its remarkably honest script. As many in Hollywood will tell you, it's virtually impossible to turn a bad script into a good movie. A well written screenplay is at the heart of any masterpiece. With Jeff, there's an exceptionally penned heart-filled story wrapped up in an awkward and unconventional shell. For all of the brow-raising nuances you'll see onscreen, the film's brilliant and uplifting resolve makes them seem almost necessary. Within all of this lies the true beauty of the Duplass brothers and their groundbreaking efforts.
Along with the movie's satisfying big picture script and excellent direction, Jeff works as well as it does because of Jason Segel. Starring as the lovable slacker Jeff, Segel helps bring a well intended persona to life. Jeff is an easy character to connect with and he becomes the necessary light in order to attract the audience. He sees the world in such a simple and childlike way that, as a viewer, you can't help but pour every ounce of your heart into his journey. Segel's performance is unforgettable and perhaps his most notable to date.
Despite its abundance of glowing aspects, Jeff is far from flawless. Much like their 2010 film Cyrus, the movie is falsely being pitched as a comedy. Outside of the occasional chuckle, there's nothing overtly hilarious in this feature. Similar to Cyrus, any overblown comedic expectations will create a sense of awkwardness and misunderstanding. If you walk into the theatre expecting to see a well crafted drama with a peppering of jokes, you're level of appreciation for the film will surely skyrocket.
With a somewhat dragging 83 minute runtime, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is an otherwise wonderful destiny-filled journey. You'll get caught up in Jeff's personal quest for a purpose and, when all is said and done, you'll leave the theatre completely moved by the entire experience. The film packs an enormous amount of heart in only 83 minutes. If you're a sucker for an uplifting tale, then don't hesitate to see the latest effort from the Duplass brothers, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.