Tag Archives: comedy

Jeff Who Lives at Home

8/10

The Duplass Brothers directed “Jeff Who Lives at Home” with a stingy sense of life and desperation, a comedy of errors. It features Jason Siegel and Ed Helms as opposite brothers; Segel is Jeff, a pot-smoking and cosmic-connector of sorts, and Helms is Pat, a loose-cannon business man who is having trouble with his marriage. The two are thrown together into a series of circumstances, when Jeff’s mom tells him to go to Home Depot to fix the shutters, and he finds Helms outside a hooters restaurant at a business-meeting. “You’re having a business meeting at hooters? That’s classy.” Jeff says.  We find out later in the film, as they walk endlessly together after Pat’s new Porsche is towed, that their father died when they were young; it had an adverse affect on all of them, including the mother, who in a story of her own, struggles to find out who in the office is her ‘secret admirer’.

Jeff has an intuition about many things, and during the scenes where his brother Pat asks his advice, you can see he is just a person, but a natural one; he tells Pat to hold his breath, and just tell his wife he loves her so much: it’s more complicated, Pat pesters, but in the end Jeff is right. The movie feels mainstream, but is also funny and has an indie-like touchiness to it; the Duplass filmmakers want to depict the struggles of the common man in a funny, but also prying manner. And although the character’s are somewhat one-dimensional and seen before, the strained business man and the shaggy-dog, it takes them into new grounds, testing their bounds and personalities. Before Pat finds out his wife may be cheating on him, he would have never quietly sat in a bath tub with his brother, just talking. It would have been weird: but on the emotional fringe, distressed and not knowing where to start, he sits and ponders, like Jeff does all day.

The conclusion to the film is breathtaking and very heartfelt. Sure, it’s an ending that’s seen in Adam Sandler comedies, but its an ending not for those movies, but for Jeff. He deserves the self-recognition; through being overshadowed by his brother’s confidence, and his own lack of, it does wonders for him. Though simplistic at times, the movie is hilarious and written with keen nuance, featuring great performances from Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon.

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21 Jump Street

8/10

21 Jump Street is like 2009’s “Get Him to The Greek”, where the popular awareness was not high, but on DVD you really find out what has been missed; Fast, funny, and tongue-in-cheek satire produce a top-notch comedy, featuring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as buddy-cops. Directed by Phil Lord, and Chris Miller, the film constantly is satirizing movies of the 70s and 80s, like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard; cars are expected to dramatically blow up, but don’t;  the man in the ambulance  says ‘I’ll come back later’ during the dramatic make-up and kiss ending.

The premise is that these two jerk-off cops are going to raid a high-school, the homestead they just escaped.  Jonah Hill is still scarred by his loser-charm, and Channing Tatum flowering at the idea, after having an uproarious time in high-school, and locate a new synthetic drug. The cop that assigns the task is played by Ice Cube, in one of the rare roles where he is actually funny. It starts out with Schmidt, (Hill), fearing that his relationship with Jenko (Tatum), will return to the I’m cool-your loser dichotomy it was originally; instead, the new generation of kids finds Schmidt to be the cool one, especially after Tatum punches a gay black boy on the first day of school for no apparent reason, other than he was ‘trying’.

The fake-identities get a little jumbled; Jenko ends up being the chemistry-geek, even though he seems to be really dull, and Schmidt is headed for Drama class, which his unloose personality is not made for. But this leads to Schmidt talking to a girl, who eventually gets in the way of his assignment. They find a supplier of the synthetic drug, Eric, and hope it will lead them to the mother-dealer; Eric takes Schmidt under his wing and trusts him to sell part of the load. Not till the end do we find the supplier, in a scene like the ending of “True Romance”.

The pairing of Tatum and Hill was very well done, and the script also gave them a solid amount of material to work with. It was based on the television show from 1987-1991, by the same name, created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell. It shows excellent talent, I found especially from Jonah Hill, who is glowing with the glee of popularity in high-school. It even has a cameo from Johnny Depp. Hilarious and warmhearted, 21 Jump Street is the best surprise comedy-film of 2012.

The Big Lebowski

8/10

The randomness of The Big Lebowski feels so nuanced and right for the characters, that a plot would seem unimportant. And it is, both to the audience and to “The Dude”, our star protagonist played by young Jeff Bridges, a comedy character to be remembered for a very long time. In truth, the movie just feels like the screenplay was written with pieces of meaningless dialogue taken from whatever the Coen’s were reading at the time. But this unlinear style is what makes the movie great.

Their are many scenes in The Big Lebowski where The Dude’s eyes are wide with surprise; he’s drunk on White Russians or smoking a joint whenever a daunting scene comes into gear. He crashes his car when he drops a steamy roach on his lap. He falls unconscious at a porn-filmmakers house after drinking  a tainted white-Russian. He really never is in a clear state of mind throughout the entire movie. His next door neighbor obviously doesn’t know this, or thinks hes superior because of it, because he asks him to come and give notes about his stage performance, an awkward little shadow dance.

The Dude and his buddies, a vietnam veteran Walter Sobchack played by John Goodman and a car-wash worker “Donny” played by Steve Buscemi, talk about a bunch of things, including the history of a fellow bowler, Jesus played by John Turtorro, a cult-character who allegedly was a past pedophile; a comically uproarious clip of Jesus walking up the pathways of  neighbor’s houses, having to explain that he is a pedophile, and a beer drinking man opens up: whats going to be his response? And then Jesus is a wise-cracking, confident bowler, even going so far as licking his ball.

The main plot that The Dude has on his mind in the movie, is that Jeff Lebowski, a rich man with the same name, has a wife and she’s been kidnapped. The Dude somehow gets involved and fails at being the courier of the money to pay-off the kidnappers, and then is thrust into a game of cat and mouse. With wacky characters popping-up along the way, like Lebowski’s daughter, Maude, who wants to co-produce with The Dude, but wants him to not be anywhere near the child. And little Larry, a kid who apparently stole the briefcase of money. The film is wild and hilarious, a cult favorite that has its own assemblies like Star Wars. Their will never be a movie made like this again, without feeling self-conscious of its own comedy.