Jeff, Who Lives at Home
DIRECTORS: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass | WRITERS: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass | CAST: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Rae Dawn Chong | USA
Jeff Lives in the Basement Because It’s So Fucking Whimsical That Way is a thoroughly contrived piece of self-consciously kooky garbage that could have been made specifically to push all my irritation buttons – starting with the smart-alecky film geekisms – even though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I didn’t just dislike it; I loathed every smarmy look-at-me! second of it. The movie takes place in a world in which it makes sense to search bagged garbage in a dumpster in the alley behind a restaurant for the carbon of a credit card receipt for a bill that was paid less than a minute before. A world where a Porsche going 35 mph can slam into a tree and look as if it had just been parked there. A world where…oh, I could go on but won’t waste my time. The acting is phoned in (Susan Sarandon, Rae Dawn Chong, Judy Greer) when it isn’t just plain bad (Jason Segal); Ed Helms stands out for his painfully inept stab at creating what I’m sure he thought of as a three-dimensional character. The Brothers Duplass and their cinematographer Jas Shelton should be levied stiff fines for the constant – and I mean constant – little zooms in and out, to the left, to the right, up, down, that mar an otherwise distressingly ordinary looking film. Roger “Plot Points Are Meaningless” Ebert has this to say about that nonsense:
One stylistic note: In nearly every scene, the Duplass brothers use quick little zooms in and out. Given the usual meaning of a sudden zoom in the grammar of the cinema (they translate as whoa!), these have no meaning at all. They’re simply devices to remind us that the story isn’t really happening but is being directed. Instead of whoa!, they translate as Duplass! They’re good directors; they’ll outgrow this.
Yeah, well, I won’t be holding my breath until their next film.