The Duplass brothers’ follow up to 2010’s Cyrus is the first great film of 2012. Their former wide-eyed and mumble-tailed approach to filmmaking continues to evolve towards refined subtlety as they march on towards the mainstream, and the evolution is welcome. Abrupt zooms and an aversion towards tripods remind us of their roots while the overall production value is as large as its themes, or at least its stars (or its $10 million budget). Jason Segel stars as the titular 30-year-old slacker, a self-aware pothead who obsesses over his destiny from the comfort of his mother’s basement. Jeff has the ambition, but lacks the drive, and he’s not doing anything until he receives a sign from above. The film unfolds over the course of a single day that unexpectedly changes the lives of Jeff, his brother Pat (Ed Helms), and their mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) in addition to those that surround them (this is the rare film that explores the interconnected nature of mankind and doesn’t come across as trite or gimmicky). Jeff answers a wrong number that sets him on his path towards greatness, Pat is forced to deal with marital problems, and Sharon investigates the identity of a secret admirer in her office. Everything unfolds within the city of Baton Rouge in a dryly comedic and endearingly sincere manner, just like their previous films. It’s a joy to see such familiar faces in a unique, indie-minded endeavor like this one; here’s hoping the Duplass’ keep it up.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home opens today in Philly-area theaters.