The latest film on my hit list is Jeff, Who Lives at Home starring Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon. There are also two solid supporting efforts from Judy Greer and Rae Dawn Chong. Chong’s an old favorite of mine from the 80’s that we haven’t seen very much of in quite some time. It’s nice to see her again.
The major issue with the film is that it’s woefully predictable. It’s one of those “finding yourself” movies where you’re first introduced to the main character—Jeff—who’s clearly a mess and then we meet the rest of the so-called healthier cast. Of course they’re all suffering from their own major issues and, in the end—surprise, surprise—it’s Jeff who’s the one with all the answers.
The score is forgettable as are the locations. It also doesn’t help that the look of the film is very bland unless you like the the across-the-board synergy.
The film isn’t horrible it just isn’t very interesting. Sarandon is essentially wasted and seems far too big a talent for her meager role as Jeff’s mom. It also dawned on me that 99% of her on-screen time is spent away from the main characters. Only in the last sequence does she appear with them. The rest of the time she’s just required to basically work out of her cubicle at work calling home now and again.
Chong’s character isn’t around long enough to really draw much from but what’s there is interesting and she does a good job with it. Also squandered is the talent of Judy Greer who plays Jeff’s sister-in-law. She’s been great in every role I’ve seen her, but here it’s just a cookie-cutter character that we really can’t get very attached to either. Her subplot could have been one of the more interesting ones but it just never evolves effectively.
I also really enjoy Ed Helms but he too feels out of place as the older brother. It just didn’t fit for me. Segel has been good in virtually everything he’s done to date and he’s clearly the driving force of this film in every way but it’s all just too much to overcome. I suspect this appealed to him as a vehicle to show he’s not just a comedic actor and, while I think that’s possibly true, it’s just not the right film for him to prove it. I expect we’ll be seeing similar attempts from him before too long but I hope they’re of a better caliber than this one.