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Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Posted on the 21 September 2011 by Cinefilles @cinefilles

The Filles Take TIFF!: Jeff, Who Lives at HomePhoto: Paramount Vantage
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is the unofficial sequel to the Signs you've been waiting for. Or so the title character thinks.
The new Duplass brothers (they did Cyrus and the lesser-known, Baghead) comedy centers around a slacker dude named Jeff (Jason Segel, I Love You, Man), who is obsessed with the M. Night Shyamalan/Mel Gibson alien flick, its views on destiny and the old adage "Everything happens for a reason." So when a strange man calls his house asking for "Kevin", who definitely does not live with him and his mother (Susan Sarandon), he assumes its a sign from the heavens.
Jeff rearranges the letters in former Backstreet Boy's name, looking for a hidden message and coming up with (of course) "knive." He then picks up a knife, and the phone rings again. It's his mom, asking him to get out of the basement and go to Home Depot to buy a shutter. He does as Mama tells him and ends up on an empirical adventure through the Baton Rouge suburbs.
What starts out as a traditional deadpan indie comedy (its got that handycam zooming, real-life lighting and everythang!), quickly turns sincerely sentimental. While Jeff attempts to find his next sign, his mother finds herself - and a secret admirer - at work. And his brother (Ed Helms, TV's The Office), a Porsche-obsessed prick, slowly learns to truly love his long-time girlfriend (Judy Greer).
This disjunctive, oft-overachieving tone will disappoint those looking for yet another Judd Apatow effort. But its actually the film's strength. Its never too over the top in terms of drama or comedy. Sure, certain sections can be kind of preachy, but we're taken back down to earth quickly with a side stoner joke.
Segel and Helms pass for brothers with flying colours, bouncing off each other with an awkward art. After all, they're kind of the same dude - adorably goofy nice guys with overactive eyes. But Segel is truly gigantic presence, eclipsing everyone with his enormous stature and heart.  If this is a sign of what's to come, it looks like Jeff won't be the only one with a perfectly pre-set future. B

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