Written and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass (Baghead, Cyrus), who have carved themselves out as cinematic arbiters of stunted adulthood, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is about someone all of us already know — that classmate, that neighbor, that relative, that friend who hung back to "figure things out" while everyone else decided to go ahead and grow up. Pieced together like any indie dramedy eager to prove its funnymen can also feel profoundly sad, the movie has several very real moments, but the trajectory of its title character is too gift-wrapped to be taken seriously.
Jeff (Jason Segel), a 30-year-old bong-ripping manchild living in the Baton Rouge basement of his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon), thinks about life for a living, telling the audience from go that he believes there's a connective spiritual channel flowing through all people and all things. His older brother, Pat (Ed Helms), meanwhile, is the opposite of immaterial, obsessed with the Porsche he purchased behind the cold back of his wife, Linda (Judy Greer). When evidence surfaces that Linda might be stepping out on her husband, the good-as-estranged siblings make a daylight mission out of catching her red-handed, locking in lessons about themselves and (of course) each other in the process.
Segel, who possesses some rooted (if predictable) dramatic game, works well with Helms, who riffs on the flawed-perfectionist mold established in The Hangover and The Office. Sarandon is the most wasted talent here, locked into a narrow subplot about a workplace secret admirer that dulls her shine. And while getting there is fun, the movie's third act is cheesy and unnecessary, legitimizing Jeff's idle philosophies in the most unsubtle manner possible.