Jeff, Who Lives at Home

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (B+).  I didn’t really think I would care for this movie, and at first I thought I was right.  The affable Jason Segel (The Muppets) stars as Jeff, a 30ish slacker who lives in his widowed mother’s basement smoking marijuana and wondering what his destiny is.  A wrong number starts him wondering if someone named “Kevin” might be the key to his search for meaning.  But then his irritated mother (Susan Sarandon, Solitary Man) calls him from work and sends him on a more prosaic quest: to buy some wood glue to fix a broken shutter.  Jeff is easily sidetracked, and while wandering around the city (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) he encounters his older brother Pat (Ed Helms, Cedar Rapids), who has just had a horrendous fight with his wife Linda (Judy Greer, The Descendants).  More coincidental encounters ensue, leading the brothers to suspect that Linda is having an affair.  As I say, at first I was annoyed.  Thirty-year-old slackers are generally not that amusing to me, and Helms’s character is a thoroughly unlikeable tool, and coincidences continue to pile up at an unbelievable rate.  But then at some point I just started to go with it, and the film’s conclusion put a smile on my face.  I liked it much better than the directors’ last outing I saw, Cyrus.

27 Dresses

DVD review from The Movie Snob

27 Dresses (C). A surprisingly high number of recognizable faces show up in this by-the-numbers romantic comedy. Jane (Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up) loves weddings, which is a good thing because she has been a bridesmaid 27 times. She’s also in love with her boss George (Edward Burns, She’s the One). But her kid sister Tess (Malin Akerman, Watchmen) swoops in and sinks her claws into George, while simultaneously Kevin (James Marsden, X Men), a newspaper wedding columnist, starts getting into Jane’s head. Two musical montages and one horrible barroom rendition of “Bennie and the Jets” later, we finally get to see who ends up with whom. On the whole, the movie is not horrible, but it’s not great either, and it is definitely a tad too long. Moreover, the terrific Judy Greer (Elizabethtown) is criminally underused as Jane’s best friend. See it if you must. You’ve been warned.

Arrested Development (Season 2)

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Arrested Development (Season 2). (B+) I actually finished watching this season on DVD a few weeks ago, so I’m afraid my memory is already a little hazy. As I recall, I thought the first disc was a little slow — good, but not great — but then the other two discs were better and propelled the show back into the high quality of the first season. Most cast members got their opportunities to shine, although I did think that Lindsay and Maebe (played by Portia de Rossi and Alia Shawkat) got a little shortchanged. One of the most amusing storylines had to do with George Michael (Michael Cera) and his very plain girlfriend Ann Veal (Mae Whitman). At first George Michael’s father Michael (Jason Bateman) can’t remember that Ann exists, then he can’t keep her name straight, and then he just doesn’t like her. Lots of great guest stars, including repeats from the first season like Henry Winkler, Lisa Minelli, and Judy Greer, and new ones like Dick Van Patten, Ione Skye, Ben Stiller, and Zach Braff. We’ll see if the truncated third season can measure up….

Arrested Development – Season One

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Arrested Development – Season One (B+). I never watched this show during its run, and I kind of regret it now. It is a frequently amusing soap-opera spoof about the Bluth family, a wealthy California clan whose wealth comes from a home-construction company run by George Bluth, Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor, Paul). In the first episode, however, George is arrested for suspicion of illegal business dealings, leaving his one responsible child, Michael (Jason Bateman, Juno), to try to run the company while simultaneously managing his conniving mother Lucille and his three ne’er-do-well siblings George, Jr. (called G.O.B., pronounced Jobe), Lindsey, and Buster. As well as his son, George Michael (Michael Cera, This Is the End), his sister’s bizarre husband Tobias, and his slacker niece Maebe. The Buster character is not particularly funny, but the rest are a hoot, like the glassy-eyed Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) as inept magician G.O.B. Soap opera staples like forbidden crushes, blackmail, unexpected adoptions, and twins materializing out of thin air all play their parts. Also, there are lots of great guest stars, such as Jane Lynch (A Mighty Wind), Julia Louise-Dreyfus (TV’s Seinfeld), Judy Greer (American Dreamz), and, in a recurring role as the family’s terrible lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn, Henry Winkler (Night Shift).

I laughed out loud frequently as I worked my way through the first season, watching straight man Michael try to raise his son and save the company without letting his family drive him insane. Oh, and I got a kick out of the often-hilarious “scenes from next week,” which were never part of the next episode but often explained why stuff from the episode you just saw had no real consequences.

To me, this was one of the funniest exchanges all season, when several of the family members are meeting with their lawyer Barry about what will happen at George Sr.’s arraignment in court.

Barry: “You all just have to show up and pretend to be a happy, loving family.”

Lucille: “For how long?”

Barry: “Ten minutes.”

Lucille (with eyes narrowed): “See if you can get it down to five.”