After breaking into the mainstream with their surprisingly effective low-key comedy Cyrus, "mumblecore" mainstays Jay and Mark Duplass are back with another, even more audience-friendly movie starring Jason Segal as the titular character, who literally does live in his mother's basement. (If your mother was played by Susan Sarandon, you might want to stay at home too.) Ed Helms, who with a thick goatee and a relentlessly angry attitude could be called "Mirror Universe Ed Helms", plays Pat, Jeff's brother, who suspects that his wife (Judy Greer) is seeing another man. The shiftless, weed-baked Jeff agrees to help his brother track down the adulterous wife, even as their embittered mother deals with an unexpected secret admirer at the office where she works.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is generally pleasant filmmaking, and Helms and Sarandon provide some caustic energy that plays off of Segal's flaky manchild quite well. What sinks the movie, though, is a third act that suddenly shifts into feel-good Hollywood pap. Though the Duplass brothers could argue that their film's sentimental climax is set in motion during its very first scene, when Jeff pontificates out loud about how everything is predestined to happen (to prove his point, he references his favorite movie, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, a funny moment that capture's this film's blend of hipster chuckling and genuine earnestness), it still feels kind of phony. Nevertheless, your mom will like it, and maybe your date will like it too. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a crowd-pleaser, low key though it might be. If you don't ask too much of it, you'll be fine. But Cyrus is much more honest and satisfying.