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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Jeff, Who Lives At Home

June 16th, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives At Home - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Jeff, Who Lives At Home was written and directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, who have worked together a number of times and have built up serious Indie cred with films like Cyrus, Baghead, and The Puffy Chair. Because of this, this film had high expectations. It did reasonably well at the box office. It opened in too many theaters, so its per theater average was rather weak, but it lasted long enough to top $4 million, which is good for a limited release. Will it perform better on the home market? Or does the movie have an appeal that limited to art house cinema?

The Movie

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is about a man, Jeff, who lives at home. Jeff is a man who believes in signs and has been ever since he watched Signs one too many times. He believes in fate and is always looking out for a sign that will tell him what his destiny is. However, because he's looking for signs to tell him what to do, he hasn't really done anything with his life and lives in the basement of his mother, Sharon, and smokes pot all day.

His brother, Pat, has done more of the traditional adult things. He has a good job and a loving wife, Linda. Although that loving part might be up for debate after what he just did. He just bought a Porsche, without telling his wife. She's upset with him, for obvious reasons. Making a huge decision like this without her is unacceptable. Also, they've been saving up to buy a house, and this will set them back a long time. I'm upset with him as well, because he mispronounced Porsche.

Meanwhile, Jeff is spending his morning trying to figure out the latest sign sent to him (a wrong number for someone named Kevin) when his mother calls. She wants him to do one little chore. He's to go to the hardware store, get some wood glue, and fix one of the slats on a shutter, and do it before she gets back. That's all she wants him to do for her birthday. When he heads off, he spots someone with a basketball jersey with the name Kevin. This must be another sign. He must abandon his mother's quest and following this sign.

Mother's intuition kicks in and Sharon calls Pat and asks him to help Jeff do... really, anything at this point. However, Pat and Jeff are not exactly friends and don't spend a lot of time together. However, as Pat is talking to his mom, he sees Jeff walk past the restaurant. It's another sign. Pat agrees to take Jeff to the hardware store and get this chore done. You can't ignore signs, after all. You know what else is a sign you shouldn't ignore? Speed signs. Pat decides to ignore those and all other rules of the road and ends up crashing his car into a tree. ... That's what you get for mispronouncing Porsche. ... But by another spectacular coincidence, after the car crash, Jeff spots Linda filling up her car, and she's with another man. Pat insists he and Jeff get to the bottom of this, although he's already sure she's having an affair.

Meanwhile, Sharon is having a better day. While at work, she is contacted by a secret admirer. At first she's skeptical, because it's been years since she's been in a real relationship and she thinks she's too old for a secret admirer. But her best friend, Carol convinces her to take a chance with this shot at romance.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is a movie that doesn't have a whole lot of plot and it is more about the characters and the various interactions with each other. This makes it a smaller film in scope, but one that is a pleasure to watch. At least that's true once you get to know the characters a little better. At the beginning, we follow two brothers who are not exactly compelling people. Jeff is a loser while Pat is a jerk. Also, Jeff's obsessions with Signs the movie and signs in general can be seen as little more than Indie quirkiness, something the Duplass brothers haven't quite been able to shake. (They also really like quick zooms when people are talking, which could be described as quirky directing and it can be a little distracting.) Once we learn more about the two brothers, they are very real and their problems are ones we begin to care about. We instantly understand the plight of Sharon, their mother, while her glimpse of happiness at work adds a lot of heart to the film.

On a side note, if you don't have a high tolerance for coincidences in movies, beware. This plot is driven by them and the ending in particular has been a problem for some.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray. I don't have the Blu-ray, so I can't compare the Technical specs, but it does cost 30% more than the DVD, which is acceptable, but not a great bargain.

The Verdict

Jeff, Who Lives At Home is not an epic movie by any definition of the word. It's a small, but sweet film that shows us the day in the life of two dysfunctional brothers. It won't change your life, but most people will enjoy watching it. The DVD and the Blu-ray have no special features, which hurts its overall value. It's still worth picking up, but a fully-loaded disc could have been a contender for Pick of the Week.

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