Part II: Jeff Who Lives at Home/Friends with Kids

A well-known side effect of the recession has been the creation of Boomerang Kids; that group of young Millennials (also known as Generation Y) who have been escorted through college and life by their Helicopter Parents and then graduated to find there are no jobs available and end up living back home in their parent’s basement. I would like to be the person who makes up these names that effectively label and stereotype whole groups of people into small segments of the population that can then be categorized and identified by a single phrase. I think we need one for people who write reviews on the internet about things of which they know nothing. Critical Massholes?

Part II of movies that surprised me features a member of the above mentioned Boomerang Kids. Jason Segel plays the title character in Jeff Who Lives at Home, a gentle movie that starts out pretty much as you would expect it to: Jeff is a thirty year old jobless stoner who spends his days in his mother’s basement and whose future seems as hazy as the weed smoke that swirls around his head. Although he has no ambition or direction, he has watched the M. Night Shyamalan film Signs enough times to know that something is going to happen if he just pays attention. A wrong number asking for someone called “Kevin” sets him off on a quest to figure out exactly what his purpose in life might be, and leads to a series of seemingly unrelated events that culminate in an ending that I would not have predicted. The film has a slow-paced, quirky sense of humor that is mildly entertaining but I found my mind wandering. In my head, I was doing comparisons of other films that featured adult basement-dwellers, such as Wedding Crashers or Wayne’s World. I was regretting the absence of a good Queen headbanger on the soundtrack when the film went from being about dead ends to new possibilities.

Susan Sarandon plays Jeff’s exasperated mother who is sick of both her children (Ed Helms of The Office plays her other son, trying to figure out if his wife is having an affair) and wonders what happened to her life and if she is destined to spend it in a suffocating office cubicle. While her sons are out following signs that seem to be leading nowhere, she is trying to figure out the mysterious secret admirer who has started sending her anonymous messages on iChat. The discovery of who her suitor is that culminates in the most romantic kiss that I have seen on film in years is what takes this slight movie in a completely different direction and makes us see that paths we believe we are destined for may lead somewhere else entirely. Susan Sarandon is luminous on-screen as she realizes that her life, as well as her sons, may still hold some surprises. What starts out as kind of a snoozey movie ends up as a film that delights.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS Remarkably steady for an indie flick.

A SIDENOTE: My Friends with Kids rant had me reliving the film when I suddenly remembered something about it that may have colored my dislike. In the movie, Adam Scott is describing what a good person Jennifer Westfeldt’s character is by saying something like “She is so uncorrupted that she won’t even stay in a cineplex to see a second movie – she always buys a new ticket.”

HEY! That is not what makes you a good person! Being kind to pets and children, not stealing people’s newspapers off their porch – all those things count, too! I hate judgemental films.

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