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My 12 for ’12: Jeff Who Lives at Home & Living in Hope

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #9

The eponymous Jeff, from Jeff Who Lives at Home, feels like something of a cousin to the Judd Atapow “manchild” that we’ve seen popularised in films like Knocked Up of The 40 Year Old Virgin. He’s unreliable, lazy and smokes a not inconsiderable amount of pot. His mother can’t even count on him to fix a shutter door on her birthday, although he is quick to offer seemingly vacuous philosophical insights garnered from Star Wars and Signs. His brother Pat is hardly a run-away success, trapped in a failing marriage and prone to sit around Hooters all day, but at least he has thrived when compared to Jeff. Jeff is, by all accounts, a fool whose own naivety leads him to get beaten and mugged within the first half-hour of the film.

However, at the heart of Jeff Who Lives at Home, is a surprisingly romantic idea. There’s the notion that the universe is somehow a far more compassionate and understanding place than we might suspect. Jeff’s logic and reasoning might be far from convincing, and it’s easy to be cynical. However, Jay and Mark Duplass craft a story that suggests sometimes things work out just right.

jeffwholivesathome3

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Non-Review Review: Stupid Crazy Love

Stupid Crazy Love suffers a bit from being a tad inconsistent, fluctuating between compelling character drama and well-observed romantic comedy. It isn’t an issue that movie fails at either of these, it just runs into a bit of bother bouncing between the two extremes. The ending might be a little trite, and a tad conventional, but the movie manages to raise some interesting ideas along the way. Still, it allows Steve Carell his best big screen appearance since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and makes for an alternatingly side-splittingly and heart-breakingly affecting movie.

Saving Ryan's Privates...

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Non-Review Review: Old School

It’s tempting to look back at Old School in the wake of the massive success of The Hangover and claim “I saw Todd Phillips’ potential first!” After all, massive critical, commercial and audience hits don’t come out of nowhere, and the early work of a given director should probably give some indication of their hidden talent. However, I don’t really see too much of The Hangover in Old School, a film that I like, even if I don’t love it. There are a few similarities in content and structure, but I still can’t see anything in the film that would have led to me to “keep an eye” on Phillips. It’s a solid fratboy comedy, but it’s not anywhere near a classic.

Ferrell was on a hot streak when this came out...

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We Made a F%$&ing Movie! MacGruber and Unsympathetic Comedic Leads…

The film is a slapstick comedy with a hero who is a nice guy. I thought that wasn’t allowed anymore. He’s a single dad, bringing up his daughter with the help of his mom. He takes his job seriously. He may be chubby, but he’s brave and optimistic.

Roger Ebert on Paul Blart: Mall Cop

I watched MacGruber over the weekend. It was okay – it wasn’t fantastic, and it wasn’t one of the best examples of anything, but if you wanted a shedload of juvenile humour, well… it was right up your street. However, watching the film did get me thinking about just how much of a jerk the title character was. How much of a horrible person can a comedy protagonist be? When did it become the norm for these sorts of characters to be presented with completely irredeemable traits?

Sometimes it's an up-hill struggle to empathise with a protagonist...

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