Jeff lives at home, which is unusual because he is well into his 30s, and has no initiative, drive or purpose in life. He has a minor ongoing feud with his brother (Ed Helms), and his mother (Susan Sarandon) is both frustrated with and indulgent of this retarded adolescent. What will become of them all? Well, not a lot really, since this is an indie comedy courtesy of the Duplass brothers (who also made Cyrus). Their preference is for low budget family-based movies, which are somewhere off to one side of the mainstream without going all the way to weird and wacky.
The use of familiar faces is significant in this regard, since you are more likely to get an audience (and a budget) for a film which stars Segel, Sarandon and Helms than you are for a bunch of unknowns. And we, the audience, are more likely to cut the characters some slack if they're played by actors we know and love.
Because, let's face it, Jeff is pretty much a waste of space. He does nothing all day long, except smoke dope. He's convinced that Signs (the Mel Gibson movie) is the greatest film of all time, and proves that life is full of Important Coincidences, which you just have to be alive to. So, when his mother sends him out on a simple errand, it becomes a major odyssey, whereby Jeff follows his instincts, however unreliable, rather than just getting on and doing what he was asked to do.
As for his brother Pat (Helms), he's thoroughly obnoxious in a very different manner. Self-obsessed, materialistic, shallow and paranoid, he's far from being any woman's dream, and certainly not his wife's. So he and Jeff get caught up in stalking her, trying to see if she's having an affair. The brothers, needless to say, manage to bicker throughout this entire process. Like I say, these are not characters you'd necessarily want to spend a lot of time with, and it's a wonder their mother hasn't washed her hands of them.
I quite liked the film, but you may get the impression from some reviews that this is some minimalist masterpiece, whereas in fact it's just a slightly-more-than-decent comedy which isn't as unconventional as it pretends to be, but has been made with affection and good humour.
By Phil Raby
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