This is a film about a 30-year-old man, played by Jason Segel, who still lives at home in his parents’ basement, habitually smoking weed. It sounds like a set-up for the kind of easy-watching, LOL-filled deal Jason Segel has become synonymous with, after his turns in Knocked Up (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and I Love You, Man (2009).
But, it turns out all former expectations of Jeff, Who Lives At Home were rather misplaced. It opens with him thoughtfully recording his thoughts on Signs (2002) – you may remember it featured Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix being plagued by unconvincing green CGI aliens. It’s this film’s assertion that keeping a lookout for signs in your everyday life will inevitably lead to your destiny that is the cause of Jeff having been unable to make a destiny of his own.
Jeff receives a phone call, someone asking for Kevin, and a request from his mother (the ever-wonderful Susan Sarandon), triggering a trip to follow the signs. His destiny then includes a mugging and bumping into his brother several times while he obsessively tries to find out if his wife is having an affair.
Sound random? It is. There are moments when you have to suspend your concept of reality to breaking point as several storyline tangents slowly come together, but you can’t help but be touched by the overall message of this film. It is revealed that there is a reason for Jeff’s obsessive sign following, one which has left him desperate to find proof that things in life happen for a reason. And when juxtaposed against his brash showy brother, Jeff demonstrates how easily people can go through life without noticing things. While looking for signs, at least Jeff notices birds in the sky, and actually sees his fellow passengers on the bus. His brother Pat (Ed Helms) misses everything as he walks through life thinking only of himself.
It’s a preoccupation that many people are guilty of as they get bogged down with their jobs: failing to notice beautiful everyday events, failing to sit down and listen to the people around them. Jeff is an extreme, but is an example of the good that can be achieved from simply noticing.
This is a film that possibly tries to do a little too much and gets a little lost along the way, but it has some touching moments and a pretty lovely soundtrack.