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April 04, 2012  | by: Addie Stuber

A famous philosopher once said, “Only the wisest and the stupidest men never change.” The philosopher was Confucius. He lived in China, not his parents’ basement. Despite this minor detail, his definition fits Jeff, the central character of Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Jeff (Jason Segel) is not a slacker. He is waiting for the universe to divulge itself.  Jeff’s preoccupation with his destiny does not lead him to a mountain top or year-long fast. Instead, he chooses to seek out clues from the safety of his couch. Jeff’s Mom Sharon (Susan Sarandon) and older brother Pat (Ed Helms) are fed up. Sharon has a career that involves responsibility, yet she can’t rely on Jeff to help complete simple household chores. Pat is married, has his own apartment AND owns a Porsche. Jeff hasn’t had a girlfriend since High School and doesn’t possess a driver’s license. Mom and Pat don’t get along very well either but one thing they can agree on is Jeff’s impeding Loser status.

Jay and Mark Duplass, Jeff, Who Lives At Home’s Director/Writer duo, are best known for Mumble-Core indie flicks like Cyrus and The Puffy Chair. Although Jeff, Who Lives At Home is quiet, Mark and Jay avoid boring audiences by producing a consistent tension in Jeff’s nature. Jeff’s immobility is not a meditation because he cannot ‘be.’ We see him struggle, often times comedically, with his undefined future. The moment we stoop to idealize, our nostrils get a whiff of convictions that reeking of weed.

Jeff (Jason Segel)

The same doubt-hope mixture is gradually doled out to Sharon and Pat. When their meticulously crafted lives are revealed to be just as empty, Jeff’s soul-searching is exactly what is needed to sort through each seemingly random puzzle piece. The result is snug-fitting, perhaps a little too perfect.

Though few would be paralyzed by fate’s big reveal, our decisions are stoked with the desire to be intentional. As much as we’d hate to admit it, we can’t predict the day to day, even when it is penciled in on our personal calendars. Jeff is smart in that he admits to not having answers. He goes on a pilgrimage to find them elsewhere. We tag along for the ride and there is no need to play dumb – we already are.

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