By any definition, Jeff (Jason Segel) is a slacker. He’s unemployed. He lives with his mother (Susan Sarandon). He smokes pot regularly. It’s a chore even for him to leave the house to get supplies to fix a closet door for his mother’s birthday. He’s the hero of Jeff, Who Lives at Home, a rare film that is perhaps too short for its own good. The writing-directing team of Jay and Mark Duplass entrench us in the lives of four fully formed human beings in a series of events that are natural yet delightfully whimsical. Jeff’s brother is Pat (Ed Helms), who wants to prove he’s more successful than he actually is and has put his wife (Judy Greer) to the side for too long. The two brothers, led by Pat’s jealousy and Jeff’s belief in fateful signs, begin following the wife around. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Based on a series of outtakes and alternate takes during the credits, Wanderlust looks to have been largely improvised by its cast. The good news is that the ensemble is genuinely funny and they have material from which they can easily mine humor. George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) wind up at a hippie commune lost in time after they fail to make it in New York City. Of course, the people there don’t like the word “commune” because it brings to mind people smoking pot and playing guitar, a resident says as a group of people smoke pot and play guitar in the background. There are a lot of similarly simple jokes played well, and even when the jokes falls flat, which is often enough to notice, it’s not for like of trying by the cast. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Seeking Justice is set in a crime-ravaged New Orleans where a group of vigilantes exact vengeance on the perpetrators of violent crime. It’s not a cheery view of humanity, and screenwriter Robert Tannen gives the material an at-best questionable but more-than-likely nonexistent moral core. The group is wrong, or at least that’s we get from the fact that Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage) is trying to take it down after he employs the group’s help after his wife (January Jones) is assaulted. It’s only when they want him to return the favor that he figures out that this whole thing might not be on the up-and-up (“Justice” for me but not from me). Director Roger Donaldson keeps everything moving fast enough that most of these concerns are afterthoughts. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Impartiality is a chore in Big Miracle, a movie that tries so hard to present every side of its story that it offers no narrative cohesion. A family of whales is trapped in the icy Alaskan wilderness, certain to die unless they can make it to the open sea. There are so many characters here it’s hardly worth mentioning, especially since the screenplay can’t decide whose story it is. Considering all the footage of the actual events playing over the end credits, this is another based-on-a-true-story fiction that we can’t help but wonder whether a documentary would have been better. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Project X shows a teenage house party go off the rails. That’s all there is; there isn’t anymore. Shouldn’t this be fun? Instead of reckless joy, though, the movie gives itself over to an attitude of anarchistic abandon. It’s a joyless ride into chaos–mayhem of the dismal variety. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and DVD/Blu-ray Combo.