Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What is the greatest day in the history of the world?

When I was in college, I had a professor who would routinely express how in life everything is connected. It got to the point where you could utter just those three words and everyone knew exactly whom you were talking about. And maybe we laughed at his repeated insistence, but I think Prof. Gourlie was right. Maybe I didn't need to close my eyes and imagine the energy that is flowing between us, but I certainly understand it. Our actions, or lack thereof, affect the people and things around us. Even the seemingly random ones.

I bought in fully while watching Jeff, Who Live at Home. From the opening piece about the film Signs delivered from the crapper, I was hooked. And 83 minutes later, I'm not afraid to admit, I was a sobbing mess. I think the less you know, the better. So if you think you're in, we'll talk later.

This film takes place over the course of one day. Jeff, played by the gigantic Jason Segel, is this really nice guy trying to figure out his place in life. Ed Helms plays his brother Pat, who is probably equally as lost, but is too hard-headed or stupid to admit it. Both of these guys are at odds with their ladies, too. Jeff frustrates his mother with his lack of action and direction, while Pat's wife is feeling unloved and alone. Everything will change however, and it all starts with a single, hilarious phone call. Some guy gets Jeff on the phone, but he is really looking for Kevin. And so it begins...

One thing I can say without really spoiling much, is the fact that I really enjoyed that the movie spends time referencing another movie throughout. Especially considering that it's M. Night Shyamalan's Signs. I know now that the guy is a borderline joke for many people, but I think that he has made some really good films. And for awhile, he was the Jedi-master of movies where things all came together in the end and where, say it with me, everything is connected. And since Jeff, Who Lives at Home is one of those movies, well, it's a perfect fit.

While the film itself isn't perfect, I still think it was very, very good. Here are the basement-dwelling Yays and Boos, some-people-take-a-lot-longer-to-figure-it-out style.

Kevin beat me up.
  • Segel is solid throughout, but the entire cast is very good. It takes awhile for Helms to get going, though.
  • The scene in the cemetery was very powerful. I wish my dad said cool things like that to me. His go to line is what do you feel like having for dinner? Oh, Chef Brown. You so crazy.
  • The stakeout in the restaurant was funny. I'll take some frickin, water, Rob.
  • The ladies! Judy Greer gets to play a lead, not a quirky best friend. Rae Dawn Chong? Where have you been all my life? I haven't seen you since Hideaway (another connection movie, for sure).
  • It's very fitting thematically that the climax takes place on a bridge. You will either love this scene like I did, or this will cement your hatred for both me and the flick. Either way.
  • And speaking of the bridge, I pretty much lost it as soon as Jeff started running. But Pat losing his mind destroyed me. I think it made me miss my brothers. A lot. It's like that bit in Swingers when Vince Vaughn talks about the camera guy crying...
  • And finally, the very last scene. Even the smallest things can have a great impact. Perfect.
I'm not sure what she ever saw in Pat. Now, Steve...
  • Pat is a huge douche for probably 80% of this.
  • And an even bigger boo, is that I saw some of myself in his character. Ugh. Not cool.
  • Shaky cam! Must we zoom in to emphasize every single point? No, we must not.
  • Susan Sarandon's sub-plot was okay, but I absolutely hated one small part of it. I think I covered my eyes, I felt so embarassed.
  • MOVIE RULE #269: When your life is shit, and it starts to rain and you don't have an umbrella? You look up, close your eyes, and you smile dammit. Because either, a) it can't get any worse (you know, because <gasp!> your clothes are now wet) or b) everything's going to be okay. In this one, it's actually rule #269a. Indoor rain.
Watching two brothers argue for an hour and a half might not be your cup of tea, but I loved it. I have three brothers of my own and we don't really interact all that often. Hell, a plane would be needed for any two of us to get together, we're that far apart (logistically, and otherwise). You know where this great divide truly started? The day I went off to college.


  1. I like Shyamalan's earlier films. Not just Sixth Sense but also Unbreakable, The Village, and to a lesser extent, Signs.

    This film I fairly enjoyed. The only thing that bugged me was the constant camera zoon-ins. The final bridge scene was kinda over-dramatic too but I can live with.

  2. I would take The Village off that list and add, and I know I'm in the vast minority here, but I would go with Lady in the Water.

    And good call about the camera...adding that to the Boos asap. Oh, and yes, the bridge was waaaay over dramatic, but I couldn't resist it.

  3. Haven't seen Jeff Who Lives at Home yet, but I just wanted to comment that I also liked Lady in the Water. I just thought it was cool that he made that as a fairy tale to tell his kids at night. Maybe a little creepy, but it's still cool when put into that perspective.

    1. Agreed. Too many people I know detest that movie.

      Maybe the hype was too much, though. His powers were still very strong at that point...I think.

  4. Judy Greer plays the lead? Woah, this must be a first! Ed Helms pisses me off but I'll probably check it out for Segel and Sarandon, they are very adorable and the film sounds interesting.

    1. Well, maybe not the lead, but the love-interest at least.

      Shit, if Helms gives you problems, be careful, this is the worst character I've ever seen him play. You might end up spin kicking the TV.

    2. Does he sing in it? Because his singing in The Office made me fastforward while taking painkillers just to numb the pain from this awfulness.

    3. Oooh. I thought that was one of the things people liked about Helms. Scratch that.

      But no, this movie is for the most part based in reality, so no singing by any characters, I think.

  5. Solid review of this movie. I may be a minority here, but I really enjoyed the close-ups in the filming. It really fit the vibe of the movie. Then again I liked, nay, loved everything about this flick.

    I think we can all see a bit of ourselves in Ed Helms' character (though most of us are probably reluctant to admit that). You cannot deny the beauty in the emotional breakdown of Helms' persona, either. It was out of the norm for him to play such a tool, but he did it in a way that made me hate him and feel sorry for him at the same time.

    "Stay pure of heart and you will see the signs." If anyone who has watched this movie takes away even a fraction of the message that it was trying to deliver then you are having a pretty damn good day.

    1. Glad you liked it as well, Jamie.

      As for the close-ups, you're right - it did fit, I just felt it was done to emphasize certain bits of dialogue, and that it was distracting at times. By no means was it a dealbreaker.

      Like your last lines. Good advice.