So I think I might be a little bit in love with Jason Segal. First I was just a fan of How I met Your Mother then he popped up in The Muppets and I instantly fell in love with his extreme brand of cheesiness. Then I go home and find out that he wrote the film and even pitched it to Disney! This is when I notice how adorable he is when he smiles.
Not only is he a fantastic actor and amazing singer, but he can write too. I can just barely do one of those things!
I admit I haven’t seen any other films he’s starred in or written (other than Despicable Me) but I could sort of tell that Jeff Who Lives at Home might have the same sort of appeal. I don’t know what it is, maybe Segalness?
The protagonist Jeff (Segal) is, as you guessed from the title, a layabout stoner who lives in his mother’s (Susan Sarandon) basement. He is so busy worrying about his destiny and Mel Gibson films that he can’t even perform a simple errand for his mum. One day, he answers a wrong number phone call from someone looking for ‘Kevin.’ Later when he sees a stranger on the bus with ‘Kevin’ written on his jersey, he follows him under the belief that it is a sign and he is being led towards his destiny.
Meanwhile, we see another man named Pat (Ed Helms) on the verge of losing his wife Linda (Judy Geer), mainly because he just bought a Porsche without consulting her. Surprisingly, women aren’t as hot on surprise Porsches as you’d expect.
Jeff’s quest for his destiny isn’t going well, but it does lead him to meeting up with Pat, his brother. The destiny quest soon turns into a chase to discover if Linda is cheating on Pat, and leads to much much more for both brothers.
The plot is great for those who like films littered with symbolism and meaningful callbacks. Jeff holds an almost childlike belief that everything in the universe is connected and a sign from the universe is always waiting just around the corner for him. While he’s not always right on the mark, in many ways he’s spot on. It leads to one of the most satisfying conclusions you could have in a film.
Segal is so adorable that he can make his character seem more like a little kid than a lazy, irresponsible stoner. And yet in the final minutes of the film, he can also show us that his character has grown up and is happy to accept responsibility.
Ed Helms made a great contrast to Segal and the relationship between the two is great to watch. Thinking back to The Muppets, Segal may be the best at the ‘loving brothers’ act…
Judy Greer as poor misunderstood wife also comes across as rather sweet and innocent. Even Steve Zissis as Steve, (Say that 10 times really fast!) the man who Linda is supposedly going to commit adultery with, feels much more humanised than the typical home wrecker character.
Now the one part of the film that knocked me back – Susan Sarandon’s lesbian subplot. I’m in no way against LGBT themes in films; I’m a very strong supporter of gay rights and positive representation of gay characters in cinema. I just felt this subplot was incredibly predictable and very poor in comparison to the rest of the script.
Sharon, who has lost her husband and is frustrated with her troublesome sons, is another character who feels she hasn’t lived up to the destiny she used to dream of. She starts receiving love notes and instant messages from a secret admirer, which I will admit caused some of the funniest misunderstandings in the film. But she discovers they are from her younger female friend and co-worker Carol (Rae Dawn Chong).
At first she is understandably fazed but all it takes is for Carol to say ‘but I understand you!’ and Sharon is instantly making out with her and skipping work, presumably for a Thelma and Louise style road trip.
Not only is it a predictable and done to death plot, but the revelation method is almost laughable bad – Sharon is sent a drawing of a flower and later spots the exact same picture as a tattoo on Carol’s wrist. Sounds like something from a 15 year old’s fan fiction!
Quite frankly, how would you feel if one of your close friends confessed their love to you? Wouldn’t it take more than one phone conversation to convince you to go out with them? Carol is right that she understands Sharon better than many men could, but bonds between friends are different than bonds of love and you can’t just jump from one to the other with no transition.
I find this subplot a real shame, because otherwise this was still a very enjoyable film. Not too arthousey, not too serious and lots of Jason Segal looking cute. What’s not to like?
Cloud verdict – 7/10.