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Movie Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Jason Segal and Ed Helms deliver plenty of laughs in this comedy that takes place in a single day

And Sharon finds her office instant messages chirping with flirtatious notes from "a secret admirer." She's intrigued in a way she hasn't been in years, but jumps to some logical conclusions that will, for a time at least, leave her feeling worse than ever.

That sounds like three divergent stories, but writer/directors Jay and Mark Duplass skillfully weave them together in a way that leads everyone not only to the same geographic location, but the same life-affirming revelation. That's a surprise for film buffs, because the Duplass brothers are pioneers of a film genre called "mumblecore," which generally involves meandering, unscripted scenes and little or no real narrative structure (you can go to Netflix for their earlier films The Puffy Chair and Baghead — on second thought, don't).

Jeff’s cause is helped immeasurably by its fine cast. Segal’s imposing physical presence, as always, renders his subtle, downright tender performance a series of constant surprises. Helms, who on TV this year has the thankless job of filling the void left by Steve Carell on The Office, starts out echoing his inexplicably self-satisfied television character, but soon bursts into a blossom of hysterically raw nerves. Of course, Sarandon cannot help but give a wonderfully nuanced performance, but she’s especially endearing as a lonely woman nervously nursing the notion that, at long last, she may be on the brink of romance.

This is the Duplass brothers’ second movie with real stars — Cyrus, with John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill, was so dark I could barely find my way out of the theater. But Jeff, Who Lives at Home, comes with a big old heart and an infectious optimism to match. I like that a lot better than the darkness, and I have a feeling audiences will agree with me. 

You may also like: Will Ferrell is silly in Casa de mi Padre.

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