In his first silver-screen appearance since “The Muppets,” Jason Segel continues his run as one of Hollywood’s most lovable leading men in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” — a film that straddles the line between comedy and drama.
The title character, Jeff (Segel), is an endearing ganja-loving slacker who — of course — lives with his mom. With no job, no friends and no real prospects, Jeff is directionless, but he believes all he needs to do is follow the signs the universe gives him, and he’ll be happy. One day, fate intervenes as Jeff’s unhappy, estranged brother Pat (Ed Helms) comes into the picture. The two romp around Baton Rouge, following a snack delivery truck to track down Pat’s adulterous wife and save a few lives.
For a film that could very easily implode underneath the weight of its own quirkiness, “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” is extremely genuine. The vintage look, the bouncy Casio synthesizer soundtrack and stoner Segel could have been overwhelming, but they all lent themselves to create a compelling film.
While the film has a distinct indie image characterized by vintage aesthetic, balance and modernity are found by juxtaposing shots of retro areas — Jeff’s house and an old Hooters restaurant — with contemporary shots — a good amount of the film is spent in Pat’s modern Porsche.
The soundtrack, while minimal and kitschy, follows the emotion of the scenes’ pitch perfectly. As tension grows, the keyboard gets more frenzied but remains understated. While heartfelt silences appear in the film, the soundtrack kicks in. The characters aren’t saying a word, but the music speaks volumes.
While the destiny-pedaling, pot-smoking slacker may be one of the most annoying stereotypes in Hollywood, Segel doesn’t overdo it. Jeff’s more stereotypical qualities serve only as a backdrop for a rich, complex and emotionally inviting character.
His devotion to his family makes him loveable and his uncertainty and confusion — something many people deal with from time to time — make him relatable. It’s hard not to root for Jeff.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is a heartfelt film that will have funny bones tingling and eyes watering. The visuals and likeable characters make the film appealing to any viewer, from college students to corporate climbers to kids who live at home.