Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
March 15, 2012
** (out of four)
At some point in their lives, everyone believes they should follow the “signs” that the universe presents and see where they lead.
That’s still what 30-year-old, mom’s-basement-dwelling Jeff (Jason Segel) thinks, and that philosophy leads him on a wild escapade around Baton Rouge where his brother (Ed Helms) suspects his wife (Judy Greer) is having an affair. The guys’ mom (Susan Sarandon) also wonders which work colleague is sending her instant messages, claiming to be her secret admirer.
Writers-directors Mark and Jay Duplass (the wonderful “The Puffy Chair”) started strong and wrote themselves into a corner with 2010’s “Cyrus.” With “Jeff” they start in the corner and never get out, wrapping a weak idea around characters that spend too much time as Dopey and Grouchy.
What’s meant to be a slacker adventure about destiny and living with purpose becomes an irritating, forced indie dramedy about foolish characters who let what happens at the end of the day justify everything that came before. That’s not fate; that’s asking for trouble.
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