Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a tale of Jeff (Jason Segel) and his family, of whom, have been disconnected from themselves and one another. Jeff’s inability to determine his future drives the narrative forward. The 2011 film directed by Jay and Mark Duplass offers insight into a family merely co-existing with one another. The film depicts a minimal relationship between Jeff’s entire family as they go about their lives, Jeff an unemployed man in his 30’s who lives at home, Pat, (Ed Helms) a Paint salesmen attempting to live above his means, and Sharon, a mother drifting through life aimlessly.
The vague backstory for each character provides a level of intrigue to the audience as the characters begin to develop through their interactions. As with each character, Jeff’s backstory is vague with the movie hinting at the idea of Jeff’s downfall as he returns home to live with his mother. The film kicks off with the audience witnessing Jeff making an attempt to fill his newfound free time. Jeff subsequently fills his time with shitty day time television and infomercials while consuming copious amounts of weed. He lounges around in his Mother’s basement contemplating his life, often staring out the tiny egress window into the outside world. The sun is shining while he remains disconnected from his surroundings, deep in thought as his mouth methodically chews on the sandwich in his hand.
Jeff finds himself lazily answering the home phone, unenthusiastic about the extra work in his life, Jeff releases a depressed “hello.” An anonymous caller in search of a Kevin responds, sending Jeff into a craze about what it could possible mean. Then, a phone call from Sharon sets Jeff off on a perilously journey to the store in search of materials required to fix something. He makes an attempt to refute her claim that he is doing absolutely nothing but eventually agrees to leave the basement for once. Finally Jeff begins his journey into the outside world, a modern Hobbit of the concrete jungle. Prior to leaving he ensured his high would remain intact, taking a few hits before he left. Just before ripping himself off the couch, Jeff views an infomercial claiming to sell a product that would solve all of his life’s problems, urging him to take action and fix his own life.
What began as a simple mission to gather the essentials needed to accomplish a chore leads Jeff into the unknown, searching for meaning in anything that he comes across. He is lulled into a melodic trance on the bus as his earbuds emit music into his ears, sending him deep into thought. His gaze eventually reaches a man at the front of the bus with the name “Kevin” on the back of his jersey.
Jeff’s tirade leads him across town on a marijuana induced escapade, exiting the bus in search of meaning for his life. Jeff continuously injects himself into situations as he follows his gut throughout the day, using the most minute events to propel him forward. Eventually Sharon’s task is completely out of mind when Jeff aimlessly transitions to one problem to the next, eventually meeting up with his brother Pat.
Pat’s character is the polar opposite of Jeff. Pat is all about business, touting his Poplar Paint work attire throughout the film. Sharon calls on Pat to help direct Jeff’s life because she believes Pat “has it all together” and figured out. Things happen and Pat soon finds his brother coming to his aid, offering assistance and unwarranted advice in the form of outlandish claims about life from a stoners point of view. Jeff and Pat stumble their way through the city, uncovering more about one another during each stop until they develop a realization that it’s okay to be uncertain of things to come and to be unhappy with your current situation. I don’t wish to spoil the movie so i did not want to go into details of their happenings but the film abruptly takes a turn at the end, throwing me for a loop.
The juxtaposition between Jeff and his brother further reinforces Jeff’s narrative of everything happens for a reason. This is depicted through the careful dismantling of Pat’s life, his most prized tangible possession at stake and eventually the one he loves is thrown into question, sending him into a spiral of the unknown. That the unknown is a part of life that you cannot avoid. Throughout the film Jeff carefully balances on the edge of being on point with this concept and being completely off, forcing the audience to question whether he is really onto something. Jeff’s character continues to be developed as he grasps for meaning in an empty life, forced to live at home without a prospect in sight. The strong disconnect from society is apparent in his response to the phone call and his interactions throughout. Jeff’s message continues to be the same throughout the film with Pat’s view on his thoughts eventually changing by the end after numerous bizarre events take place.
The beginning of the film highlighted Jeff’s lack of interest in his own life, eventually fixating on the mysterious Kevin to force him to forget the societal prison that he is stuck in. Utilizing it as an out for his own life, he even puts himself in danger to follow his instinct. Whether it be by the path life has chosen for him or not, Jeff continues to be in the right place at the right time. In the grand scheme of the film, the ending sends Jeff’s involvement in the world over the edge. His drive to find his destiny perhaps appears in front of him or the event was merely a coincidence, that is only for you to decide.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home transports the audience into an uncanny tale of a family uncertain of their own personal path’s, each pertaining to various points in ones life. Interacting with one another prior to the day seen in the film, Jeff’s family perpetuates constant dread with a lack of emotion because of the endless cycle they each find themselves in each and everyday. The film was quite unusual but overall I thought Jeff, Who Lives at Home was entertaining to view. The randomness of each scenario kept me on my toes as I watched the film, wondering what Jeff would do next.