There are times when one goes to a movie simply for its therapeutic, redemptive powers; times when life has delivered the unexpected curve ball; impatiently waiting for the “silver lining” to rear its healing head. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” by the Duplass brothers (Jay and Mark “Cyrus”) is quirky, compelling and in the end magical: why we enter a darkened venue and exit rejuvenated, calmed.
“Jeff”, pivotally, charmingly, disarmingly portrayed by Jason Segal, is a thirty-year-old aimless, corpulent nerd, living in the basement of his mother’s (Susan Sarandon, forever marvelous) home. He is fascinated by the movie “Signs” (M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 film, starring Mel Gibson as Reverend Graham Hess who discovers a 500 foot crop circle on his property , hence “signs”). Jeff is fierce in listening to his instincts, and when his phone rings and someone demands to speak to “Kevin” he is apologetic in telling the surly caller that Kevin does not live with him. Jeff leaves home and collides with his destiny.
At first ridiculous, but Jeff’s “Kevin” quest is a journey resulting in reconnecting with his brother “Pat”, (Ed Helms, annoying, egotistical portrait of a boy in a man’s guise); his sister-in-law “Linda”(Judy Greer, “The Descendants”; her powerful performance lends legitimacy and potency to the film); ultimately his mother “Sharon” (Sarandon) whose frustration with her sons (“they were so cute”, what happened?) and her life, climax on this catastrophic day, her birthday; all she asks for is a shutter to be repaired; receiving “Murphy’s Law” moments in spades.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” improves with each sequence due to Segal’s imbuing Jeff with spiritual, almost messianic determination to follow his “signs”; culminating in the knowledge that by perpetually adhering to and acting upon your instincts, will result in contentment, completion, satisfaction, salvation of the spirit; an affirmation that goodness, decency and heroism reside in the core of the least expected.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” annihilator of gloom, bestowing laughter; the quintessential curative for life’s temporary shadows.