Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jeff, Who lives at home.

A film starring Jason Segel (I love you man, How I met your Mother, Freaks And Geeks), Ed Helms (The Hangover) and Susan Sarandon (do I really need to tell you?) which while advertized as a comedy, is actually probably one of the most curiously life affirming films I've seen.

Jeff (Segel), is a 30+ year old stoner, lay about, loser, who litterally does live in his mother's (Sarandon) basement. His older brother, Pat (Helms) manages a paint store and his marriage is on the rocks. The film starts with Jeff explaining how deep he finds the M. Night Shamalyan film "Signs", and how it exemplifies his philosophy of interconnectedness, how the fact the little girl is incapable of finishing a glass of water and leaves them all over the house ultimately saves the family. This may at first seem like typical stoner blithering.. the sort of thing we've seen Segel do a dozen times before. It's not. And Jeff is really as earnest as he comes across as.

The story begins with him getting high, and then receiving a wrong number from some one looking for a man named Kevin. Jeff, who is supposed to go to Home Depot to buy some wood glue, keeps seeing a young man in a jersey with Kevin emblazoned on the back, while on his trip to the DIY store. He eventually gets into an alteraction with the young man, and gets kicked off the bus.. where he runs into his older brother Pat who is at Hooter's trying to convince himself that his marriage isn't falling apart.

All sorts of mis-adventures occur, eventually culminating in them being on a bridge stuck in traffic.  He makes the comment "Do you ever the have the feeling that you've been waiting for your destiny.. but when it gets here it isn't really all that exciting?".. and then, sensing something is amiss, Jeff notices a life flight helicopter coming in to land. He gets out of the car and runs down the bridge, finding there has been an accident and a car has plunged into the water under the bridge with kids trapped inside he jumps in. Rescuing two children and their father and nearly dieing in the process.

In the end the film almost hits the same notes that "It's a wonderful life" hits. where the main character is shown what the world would be like to those who know him if he didn't exist. But the film hits these notes with a different tone. Instead of having a character who is ready to commit suicide out of unhappiness, this film features a character who is content with his lay about lifestyle.. because he knows that deep down everyone is important and everyone has some part to play.. he's content to simply wait for his cue to come on stage, and then retire once it's been played. The movie wants us to come away realizing that, yes, for all intents and purposes Jeff is a loser. He smokes dope and eats crackers in his boxers and has absolutely no ambition, but without him, 3 people would have died. It might seem preposterous, but things like this do happen in real life.

Curiously it reminded me of this passage from the Elder Edda poem Havamal.

Not all sick men are utterly wretched:
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works.

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