Trip of fools

Following Jason Segel and Ed Helms on semi-comical quest4Jeff, Who Lives at HomePageant Theatre. Rated Juan-Carlos Selznick

Pageant Theatre
Rated R.
Rated 4.0

Jeff (Jason Segel) is a shambling hulk of a boy/man who takes inspiration from an M. Night Shyamalan film (Signs) and still lives with his widowed mom (Susan Sarandon). He’s a shy goofy giant and, according to his brother Pat (a crass wheeler-dealer played by Ed Helms), he’s also a loser and an embarrassment to the family

To Jay and Mark Duplass, the filmmaking brothers who wrote and directed this film, he just might be some kind of holy fool, and so they make him the presiding spirit in an amiable little low-budget comedy/drama. Part bromance, part New Age farce, part domestic mash-up—the Duplass’ new picture runs off in a number of entertaining directions, without ever losing its deadpan dramatic edge.

The storyline starts out small (mom calling from work and trying to get Jeff out of the basement long enough to fix a broken shutter in her kitchen) and charmingly builds its pell-mell way toward a semi-comic, semi-melodramatic climax in a traffic jam on a Florida bridgeway. There’s a heroic rescue, a series of eerie coincidences involving guys named Kevin, two kinds of mid-life crisis (with offbeat romantic implications for both), a pick-up basketball sequence, a spectacular misadventure with Pat’s new Porsche (which he can’t really afford), and eventually that shutter gets fixed.

Segel’s goofy charm is central to the film’s appeal. But the film spreads the love around with its whole ensemble. Mom/Sarandon is a nice study in middle-aged longing, and her relationship with co-worker Carol (a still perky Rae Dawn Chong) provides an unexpectedly rewarding turn of comic events. Even better is Pat’s justifiably alienated wife, Linda (dainty but dauntless Judy Greer, who played a similar role in The Descendants).