A few nights ago I experienced Jeff, Who Lives at Home. I say “experienced,” because I don’t think “saw” or “watched” is sufficient verbiage. Seriously, you guys, this movie is gooooooood. Like, ultra good. Super duper good. Would you expect anything less from the Duplass brothers though? They’re pretty fantastic. Ugh, I just loved it.
That’s what I thought as soon as the credits rolled, on the drive home from the theater, as I layed in bed that night trying to force my body to give in to the night and surrender to sweet slumber, and for the entirety of the following day. I still feel that way, mostly. I mean, it was a really good movie. But my over-exuberant enthusiasm has waned slightly in the days that have followed and has settled in a state of simple enthusiasm. This movie has everything I am typically looking for in a movie: written/directed by someone I admire (the Duplass brothers), starring actors that I have at one time or another fantasized about living with on a house boat in Alaska (I have weird fantasies), and containing equal parts comedy and drama. I love movies that make me think, because, you guys, I totally love to think about stuff. This movie had all of those things! It also had something which I cannot abide, which is dead dads. Not cool, movie. Not cool.
Dead dads nothwithstanding, I very much enjoyed the movie, but this post has been delayed because I needed some time to think about what happened and how it made me feel. If you aren’t familiar with the particulars, the story focuses on two brothers, Jeff (Jason Segel) and Pat (Ed Helms), and their mother (Susan Sarandon). Jeff is 30, but he smokes too much weed and—as you might guess—lives at home in his mother’s basement. Jeff lives his life constantly searching for purpose in his life, looking to the universe for clues as to his destiny. Pat is older than Jeff, married, and has a job. He, too, dreams of a better life, but otherwise thinks things are ticking along smoothly until he discovers that his wife may be having an affair and he’s forced to face the reality of his situation. Their mother is trapped in a life she neither expected nor especially wants. Her only wish is for Jeff to buy some damn wood glue and fix a broken shutter in the kitchen already! It’s a story about fate, hope, and finding your destiny by taking advantage of the opportunities and experiences life hands you.
In other words, this is a movie about people doing the exact same thing everyone else in this world is doing: trying to figure out what their life is all about. But I think the reason I loved this movie so much immediately after it was over was because it made me hopeful. Yes, sometimes life sucks and you have to live in your mom’s basement, but maybe if you sit back and let the universe guide you instead of stressing out about every little decision you’re faced with, maybe something wonderful will happen. When the credits rolled, I was ready to quit my job and let the universe guide me. THIS IS THE EFFECT THE DUPLASS BROTHERS HAVE ON ME (UGH, knock it off, Staci!) I’ve calmed down a bit since then, and I am no longer allowing the Duplass brothers to control my emotions or life decisions. I still think this was a really good movie, but the crazy has toned itself down a bit.
I think I connected with this movie because it reminded me of my favorite poem: "The Laughing Heart," by Charles Bukowski. Its verses comfort me when I’m feeling like my life is spinning out of control and there is no hope for change. To allow for change, you have to be willing to accept change. As Bukowski said, ”Be on the watch. The gods will offer you chances. Know them. Take them.”
Jeff, Who Lives at Home: See It in the Theater