Of all the movies in the world that a writer/director could take inspiration from Signs, by M
Knighrider Night Shyamalan, is probably as unlikely a source as any. Films with Mel Gibson in as the lead character aren’t likely to be filled with flowing praise and receive a barrel full of awards, but Signs is okay. I don’t hate it, I don’t love. Jeff, Who Lives at Home doesn’t aspire to be Signs, but it namechecks it plenty and there’s more than the occasional reference dropped in, don’t worry though, JWLAH is still a good watch. I have to confess to finding most films or shows that star Jason Segel in are pretty good. He doesn’t give you incredible high-brow work, but it’s definitely a step up from your usual bog-standard comedy.
JWLAH isn’t the easiest film to review because it doesn’t do any one thing great and, conversely, there’s not too much to complain about either. It’s a good, solid, enjoyable flick, that I will probably have forgotten all about in a week or two. The story revolves around Jeff, Jason Segel, trying to connect a collection of loosely unconnected moments into something more meaningful and understandable. As Jeff searches for meaning he reconnects with his brother Pat, Ed Helms, who is on the verge of divorce. As you can see by the littering of the word “connect” in this review this is where the Signs “connection” is made. And, without giving too much away, the film is building towards a conclusion that allows the viewer to reflect back over the film and view it in a more positive light than one would have expected 50 minutes through.
The supporting cast all do a fine job of making us understand the filmmakers goal of connecting random events. The scenes with Judy Greer, who plays Jeff’s constantly disappointed sister-in-law, are nicely done and the viewer feels immediate empathy for her. This is the Duplass brothers most accomplished film, it’s certainly more intellectual than Cyrus, and all the low budget stuff that proceeded it. It isn’t, however, that great film I’ve been waiting for from them. The one I’ve been expecting after seeing Baghead a few years back. It’s charming and sweet at times, but the taste of popcorn in your mouth will stay with you longer than this film.
Marks out of ten- Seven