"I Am My Brother’s Keeper"
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME is a quirky comedy about a 30-year-old unemployed man who goes on a mystical journey in Louisiana to find his destiny. JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME has a positive, powerful ending extolling family, marriage, and being a Good Samaritan, but it has plenty of strong foul language, marijuana references, a brief homosexual subplot, and a mixed worldview with pagan, moral, and redemptive elements.
Sometimes a great ending can save a movie that meanders a little bit. Such is the case with the comedy JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME, at least quality wise. Regrettably, despite the great, morally uplifting ending that extols family and marriage, the movie has a mixed worldview with lots of strong foul language and other problems.
The movie opens with a quote from Jeff, a 30-year-old unemployed guy who lives in his widowed mother’s basement. Jeff believes everything in the universe is connected and the universe is full of signs pointing the way if you look for them.
While sitting at home watching TV and smoking marijuana, Jeff sees an infomercial telling viewers that it was his destiny to see the commercial. At that moment, a rude black guy telephones asking for Kevin. While pondering the significance of these events, Jeff gets a call from his mother who’s at work. She tells him to take some money she left in the kitchen, get on the bus, buy some wood glue, and fix a broken slat in a door.
Jeff goes out and gets on the bus. Who should sitting in front of him but a black guy with a basketball jersey saying, “Kevin.” Jeff follows Kevin and tries to befriend him, but Kevin’s friends mug Jeff, and they all steal his money. As he walks out the door, Kevin says he’s sorry. He doesn’t return the money, however.
Dejected, Jeff walks by a nearby Hooters. Who should be there but his brother, Pat, who’s just had a fight with his wife over the Porsche he just bought on an impulse. It’s clear that Pat has become a selfish guy who’s been neglecting his wife. Later, she will complain to Pat that he’s also been putting her down constantly.
Pat takes Jeff on a trip to spy on his wife, Linda. He’s slightly tipsy, however, and smashes the Porsche into a tree. The Porsche is still drivable, however. They find Linda having lunch with another guy. Pat sends Jeff into the restaurant to use a cell phone to see what Linda and the guy are discussing. It turns out she’s complaining to the guy, Steve, about how Pat has been neglecting her for a long time.
[SPOILERS FOLLOW] Working together, Pat and Jeff try to follow Steve and Linda, but they lose them when Pat’s car is towed away. Now in a taxi, Jeff sees a truck advertising “Kevin’s Kandy.” Jeff says bye to his brother and hitches a ride on the back of this truck to see where destiny will lead him next.
He’s surprised to find that it leads him back to his brother, who’s just spotted his wife’s car at a local motel. Pat and Jeff interrupt Linda and Steve before anything really happens. They get Steve to leave. However, Linda pours out all the hurt she’s been hiding from Pat and tells him they probably should get divorced. She then leaves for her mother’s house in nearby New Orleans.
At this point, Jeff gives his brother wonderful advice. Basically, he tells him that, if he truly wants to get back with Linda, he should tell her so in a loving way. That’s exactly what Pat decides to do.
As Pat and Jeff ride in a taxi to New Orleans, their mother has also decided to go there on a whim with her very close friend, Carol, who’s attracted to their mother even though they both like men.
All these plots come together and are placed on hold when, suddenly, there’s a traffic jam on a bridge going into New Orleans. It’s there that Jeff will finally discover the real meaning of everything that happened the day.
The ending of JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME is powerfully heartfelt. It also presents the ultimate message of the movie, that family is one of the most important things in life. The ending also ends up healing Pat and Linda’s marriage. In fact, a couple times earlier in the day, Jeff contradicts his brother whenever his brother makes a comment about how terribly marriage is. Jeff says he thinks it would be just wonderful to be married. Of course, Jeff hasn’t had a girlfriend since high school, but the movie’s ending suggests it’s possible Jeff can straighten out his life and eventually find the right woman.
Despite the very positive, uplifting ending, the previous parts of JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME contain plenty of strong foul language. In fact, the vast majority of the foul language occurs in the first two acts of the movie. There are also two scenes where Jeff smokes marijuana, and the scene where the mother’s friend suggests to the mother that there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual. At the end of the movie, however, these negative elements are missing. What’s not missing is the movie’s basic worldview. It suggests a syncretistic or mixed pagan worldview suggesting a pantheistic view of an impersonal universe full of mystical signs. The signs do lead to a strong moral viewpoint and premise where family is important and marriage is extolled. And, when Jeff returns home, there’s a moment where he smiles at the day’s events and lifts his head and eyes up to a possible God or Heaven. Thus, when all is said and done, the filmmakers could have made the movie’s worldview more Christian or more godly, but didn’t. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® urges extreme caution for JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME.
That said, we commend the filmmakers for the extremely moving ending. They show how a filmmaker can take some goofy, comical characters and develop it into something that’s truly uplifting. We also commend them for extolling family and marriage. They should have eliminated all the gratuitous R-rated foul language, however, and the bisexual subplot. Especially since both seemed to disappear during the movie’s big finish.
(PaPa, FR, BB, C, Ho, LLL, V, S, A, DD, M) Strong, somewhat mystical, syncretistic, and mixed pagan worldview with New Age pagan elements concerning an impersonal universe with everything being interconnected, a search for signs, some talk about fate and destiny, and some immoral moments showing some antinomianism with some strong moral elements including a pro-family message, a pro-marriage message overcomes feelings against marriage, several inspiring Good Samaritan acts in a very moving finish, a visual acknowledgement of God or Heaven, some redemptive elements, and a subplot includes a homosexual aspect where two women kiss and a brief implication of bisexuality (the women say they still like men but are shown to be close friends before any homosexual or bisexual element enters the picture); excessive foul language (the vast majority of which occurs during the first two acts) includes 52 mostly strong obscenities (mostly “f” words), two strong profanities, and seven light exclamatory profanities plus an apparent obscene gesture; brief violence includes car slams into tree, man is mugged and his money is stolen, man tries to bust down door, man subdues another man found in motel room with his brother’s neglected wife, and another car crash results in several people being rescued from death; no sex scenes but two women kiss to try it out but nothing more is shown regarding this possibility of a homosexual relationship, a reference to possible bisexuality, and husband has neglected and berated his wife so she seeks solace in the arms of another man but their intended rendezvous is interrupted and eventually rejected by the movie’s end, which extols marriage, and man has lunch at a Hooters restaurant but nothing salacious shown other than a photo of a woman in a bikini; no nudity but a photo of a woman in a bikini; alcohol use and man is slightly tipsy but not drunk; no cigarette smoking but there is marijuana smoking in a couple scenes, which is implicitly but lightly rebuked; and, white man is mugged and his money is stolen by black man he tried to befriend, some insults, wife pours food onto hood of husband’s new Porsche, protagonist follows vague “signs” he gets which lead him back to his family and put him into a role where he helps his brother save his marriage, connects with his mother, and where he gets the chance to be a big Good Samaritan, all of which seem to give him the peace he seeks.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME focuses on a 30-year-old unemployed man who lives in his widowed mother’s basement. Jeff smokes marijuana and looks for the universe to give him a sign about his destiny. His mother sends him to the store to buy wood glue. A series of comical but bittersweet and unexpected events leads Jeff to cross paths with his brother, Pat. Pat has just had a terrible fight with his wife. Eventually, everyone also crosses paths with the mother, who’s on her own journey. Along the way, Jeff’s family may just find the meaning of life, and, if they’re lucky, pick up the wood glue too.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME has a wonderfully positive and very moving ending. Best of all, the ending extols family, marriage, and being a Good Samaritan. However, the rest of the movie contains lots of strong foul language. There are also two scenes of smoking marijuana and a subplot with a brief bisexual theme. Finally, the worldview is mixed with mystical paganism, pantheism, a strong moral premise, and spiritual transformation. The negative elements warrant extreme caution for JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME.