Jason Segel is Jeff, a 30-year-old stoner who lives at home with his mother (played by Susan Sarandon). Obsessed with signs (both in the literal sense and, amusingly, in reference to M. Night Shyamalan‘s film of the same name), he is searching, rather aimlessly, for his “purpose”. Segel is entirely winning despite the somewhat stereotypical character set-up. Jeff is a gentle giant with a heart of gold, well-meaning even in his haphazard missteps (at which everyone in his family pokes fun). Segel is perfect in this role and shows greater range than I’ve ever seen in him, beautifully and convincingly straddling the line between hapless lug and sincere loving soul, between comedy and drama. It is really he who holds this film together and had me invested in any way.
Ed Helms, on the other hand, plays his narcissistic moron of an older brother, Pat, who is continually judging Jeff even when his own life is in actuality no less (if not more so) in disrepair ~ his marriage (to the always fabulous Judy Greer) disintegrating, with good reason (who could blame her?!), making ridiculous choices (like purchasing a brand new Porsche on a clearly meager salary), and holding “business meetings” at Hooters. Not that Helms doesn’t have some humorous scenes (I do think he is a gifted comedian), but it really is tough to like or sympathize with him in any way since most everything he says and does here is idiotic. Continue reading →
Wow. I am still reeling from this one…I think this is going to be one of those that really sticks with me long after I’ve seen it. (Sidenote: I viewed this on 1/24/12 and now that I’m entering this review well after the fact, I can say with certainty that I was right! It did indeed stay with me…perhaps longer than I’d have liked, which is, in my experience, truly an indication of its power.)
I knew going in that it was going to be disturbing and difficult subject matter, though not how it would be presented or play out. Indeed it was horrifically harrowing, yet I was engrossed and engaged from start to finish. Though it left some questions unanswered (and there were a few aspects with which I took issue), overall I thought it was a superbly-done and extremely well-acted film.
We learn early on that the son (the Kevin of the title) – and first child – of Tilda Swinton’s character, Eva, commits some sort of heinous act on par with a Columbine or other such violent school tragedy. We are, bit by bit, led to the final reveal of that through both flashbacks and scenes set in the present day. It does quite a nice job of building characters and setting the stage without revealing too much. In fact, nothing quite prepares you for the extent of the tragedy that ensues…