'Jeff Who Lives at Home' breaks out as best Duplass film yet

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2011 Austin Film Festival

Jason Segel (left) and Ed Helms (right) star in the Duplass brothers' most successful film yet, "Jeff Who Lives at Home."

Jeff Who Lives at Home
Jay & Mark Duplass

Genre: Comedy
Grade: B+

The Duplass brothers started off with 2005’s ultra-mumblecore “The Puffy Chair” and have slowly progressed into more commercial fare, starting with last summer’s “Cyrus.” With “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” the brothers have made their most crowd-pleasing feature yet. The titular character, played by Jason Segel, is introduced to the audience through a hilarious opening monologue about his passion for the M. Night Shamalayan alien film “Signs,” and Segal gives even the most depressing dialogue some comedic heft as we get to know Jeff and his pathetic existence.

When Jeff’s mother (Susan Sarandon) sends him to Home Depot to get wood glue, Jeff stumbles into a series of events that puts him on a collision course with his brother Pat (Ed Helms), whose relationship issues with wife Linda (Judy Greer) become clearer as the film goes on, and ultimately with destiny itself. “Jeff Who Lives at Home” plays out like a warmer, softer episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which delights in putting its characters in a variety of deeply awkward situations playing out across several story threads before tying them all together in an often elegant final sequence. The film succeeds here greatly, slowly bringing its characters together for an ending that’s unexpectedly dramatic but wholly earned, making for a satisfying, moving experience and the Duplass Brothers’ best film yet.