New Segel movie shows stoner introspection

Pitchforks: 2/5

Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms

Rating: R

Release date: March 16, 2012

Whether intentionally or not, “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, hits the nail right on the head: living at home isn’t funny.

The power of film, particularly M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs,” is “transcendental stoner” Jeff’s fixation as he lives in his mother’s basement. His fascination for the brilliance of the film exceeds the capacity for anyone to understand, let alone appreciate.

Again, Jeff is a transcendental stoner. This isn’t going to make sense to anyone except him, but that’s apparently the point.

The film goes on to inject rather significant developments between Jeff and other characters. This includes his simultaneously egotistical, ignorant and insecure brother Pat (Helms) and his unhappy yet strong mother, who is portrayed by the wonderful Susan Sarandon. Even Jeff develops given the amount of reflection a stoner like Jeff would be accustomed to.

A number of quirks and nuisances concerning who he is and who he is to become are hinted at. To some extent these are answered in the end, though the journey for the audience is rather rushed and forced before ultimately coming together (somehow) during a traffic jam.

It would be hard to describe this as a dark comedy of life for those struggling in their 30-somethings. While it is that, other films in this vein are as funny as they are “dark.”

The film was written and directed by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, who also paired together for the 2010 film “Cyrus.”

Similar to “Cyrus,” the film has a different story than what is conventional and has its moments.

On a strictly visual level, the camera work is rather annoying. At one point, when Sarandon’s character is having a thought, the camera jerks forward as her eyes open. Sarandon is a wonderful actress. Just point the camera in her direction — she can handle the rest.

Nit-pickiness aside, the film sticks to the impression given in the first scene — Jeff sitting atop his “throne” (also known as a toilet), ranting into a tape-recorder.

The “signs” are all around us, and this one is suggesting you see something else this weekend.

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