Hanging Out With Jeff Who Lives At Home

Published March 13, 2012

ABOVE (LEFT TO RIGHT): JASON SEGEL, SUSAN SARANDON, ED HELMS AND MARK DUPLASS AT THE NEW YORK PREMIERE, HOSTED BY THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER AND FIJI WATER.

A jovial ambience permeated the New York premiere of Jeff, Who Lives at Home last night—what more would you expect from a film in which Ed The Hangover Helms and Jason Segel play brothers, with Susan Sarandon as their mother? “The hardest part of the movie was acting like I wasn’t attracted to my mom,” joked Segel on the red carpet. Jay Duplass, who directed and wrote the film along with his brother, Mark, could not be at the premiere (“his wife just had a baby,” explained Mark, “Jay’s an asshole,” quipped Ed Helms.) Nonetheless, there were lots of other famous faces in attendance including the film’s three stars—Segel, Helms and Sarandon—comedians (Judah Friedlander and Justin Kirk), New York socialites (Chelsea Leyland and Jennifer Missoni), and members of the cast of Gossip Girl (e.g. Kaylee Defer in some very fluorescent orange Louboutin platform sandals).

There were certainly plenty of laughs to be had at the beginning of the film—for one, Segel’s character has a strange obsession with the Mel Gibson, M. Night Shyalaman movie, Signs. Don’t, however, let these early chuckles or comedic actors mislead you—Jeff, Who Lives at Home is not a bromantic comedy, aiming cheap shots at the now common trope of the 30-year old manpup (a phenomenon known as the “kangaroo generation” in France). Rather Mark and Jay Duplass’ film is about a tragically disjointed family unit, with no idea how their familial bonds and life-plans disintegrated. “I’m a little anxious, this is new territory for me as an actor, so I hope people like it!” explained Ed Helms.

During the Q & A session after the film, Duplass encouraged the viewer to look closely at Jeff, to recognize him as more than just a “slacker, stoner, manchild,” but rather as a character with extreme faith. For Duplass, Jeff truly believes in “something fist-pumpy and Rocky-esque:” that the universe has a special purpose for him, a destiny that he must wait for patiently. Whether or not Jeff has the right to remain an observer in life, it is hard not to think of the deep damage Jeff’s choices must be causing his mother, Sharon. In her sixties, Sharon is perhaps the true heartbreaking character in this film. Sharon’s husband died long ago, and she has been left alone, still in her bungalow, still with a son to take care of, still working in her cubicle, believing that the only way someone could have a crush on her is if she was the butt of a cruel joke. For the most part, the film takes place in a single, very dramatic day (Sharon’s birthday!), however one wonders whether when the next day begins, anything has really changed.

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME WILL BE RELEASED IN THEATERS ON FRIDAY, MARCH 16TH.