Jeff, Who Lives At Home (7/3/12)

Jeff, Who Lives At HomeMovie One Hundred Fifty Four

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is the story of a man who is looking for signs of what his life was destined for.

The opening scene has Jeff (Jason Segel), a seemingly ambitionless thirty year old living at home, talking into a tape recorder detailing the movie Signs and how he really thinks everyone has signs in their life pointing them to their destiny. Jeff answers a (seemingly) wrong number from a man asking for “Kevin” and Jeff takes this as a sign that he needs to find Kevin. His mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon), calls from work and tells Jeff the one thing she wants for her birthday is for him to fix a slat on the pantry door. Jeff ventures out into the world to help his mom but his real goal is to find Kevin. He runs into his older brother, Pat (Ed Helms), a seemingly successful married man, whose life is actually in ruin and Jeff follows his signs to his real destiny.

I really want to praise Jeff, Who Lives at Home because it is a film with so much heart but unfortunately the entire film I was so incredibly distracted by the camerawork. If you read my review of Hunger Games, you may recall that I find excessive use of shakycam to be totally superfluous and I can’t stand it. Unfortunately, for seemingly no reason at all, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is shot entirely in this fashion, which may not be distracting on its own if it wasn’t coupled with zooming every 5-10 seconds. Literally that often, I wish I was being hyperbolic. Because of this I couldn’t give my full attention to liking the characters and their personal motives for their lives.

The characters here are actually quite well-written and I think we all know people like Jeff, people that we may look down but have more heart than anyone around them. Jason Segel plays this role perfectly and I was actually reminded a lot of his role as Nick in TV’s Freaks and Geeks. I also adore Judy Greer, who plays Pat’s wife fed up at Pat’s insistence that buying himself a Porsche is more important than buying a house.

Commonly categorized as “mumblecore” Jeff, Who Lives at Home seems like the Duplass brothers wanted to branch out and have something larger but then held back. The story is there, the story works really well, actually. Other than my abhorrence of the way the film was shot, I have few complaints looking back on Jeff, Who Lives at Home and I would still recommend it.

I give it 3 ketchup streams out of 5.

Links:

Rotten Tomatoes

IMDB

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24 responses to “Jeff, Who Lives At Home (7/3/12)

  1. I keep putting this off because it looks depressing. Now that you’ve identified it as mumblecore AND shaky cam (which I too ABHOR) I can safely put this off my radar.

  2. Lol, I’d never heard of Mumblecore but it definitely makes sense. I enjoy the genre if the characters are compelling but I completely agree with you that cinematography can often distract from even the best of characters. From my point of view, the camera should act as a window to the world created by the director, and it’s hard to really gain an appreciation for that world when the camera seems to have a bad case of ADD

    • It’s a term that is often connected to the Duplass brothers movies and since they are everywhere now, I imagine the term/genre will become more widely known.

      So this movie makes the perfect case where the characters and story are pretty great but the camerawork was out of control. For some, I’m sure the former will outweigh the latter, but for me the latter was too distracting to enjoy the former. There are times when I was fine with shakycam and even the zooming when it had a purpose to get the intimate feeling of the scene, but then three zooms later for reason and I was back to hating it.

  3. Haven’t seen it, but why is there shaky cam in this movie? I wish more directors knew how amateur that makes them look.

    • At times it does give the feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the character and if it was used in moderation it would be tremendously more effective. It’s not the fact that there is shakycam and zooming, it’s that those two things are done at an excessive level, the zooming especially. I’m seriously tempted to watch it again just to count the number of zooms and give a zoom to minute ratio.

  4. I just watched this last night. I really liked it. I’ll probably have a review up soon. I definitely agree about the camera work. It almost became sickening with the constant zooming

  5. Nice review bro.

    I wasn’t paying too much attention to the camera work throughout it so maybe I’ll look more into it when I watch it again. I was engaged in the story though and I loved the character of Jeff.

  6. Pingback: My July Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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