While not hugely memorable, this enjoyably ridiculous comedy has moments that are sharp, thoughtful and hilarious. And the filmmakers give their gifted cast the space to create characters who are amusing and resonant.
At 30, Jeff (Segel) is wasting his life in his mother's basement. Frustrated that he's not more ambitious, like older brother Pat (Helms), Mom (Sarandon) sends him out on an errand. But everything that happens when he's outside reinforces his belief in some sort of cosmic destiny that's guiding his every step. He also gets involved with Pat, who's showing off his new Porsche just as he learns that his wife (Greer) might be cheating on him. Meanwhile, Mom is perplexed by the fact that she has a secret admirer at work.
Segel is terrific as a likeable oaf who earnestly loves M Night Shyamalan's Signs and hilariously looks for guidance in anything he sees. Opposite him, Helms relishes his against-type casting as a wannabe alpha male. As the two of them skulk around the city getting into a variety of awkward situations, the film keeps us smiling even if it's too contrived to make us really laugh. And Sarandon's scenes as a woman who's delighted, then rather stunned, by her admirer are involving even if they're under-developed.
The Duplass brothers are great at writing and directing ridiculous comedy as if it's perfectly natural. Clever, subtle gags emerge in every scene only to be balanced by startlingly honest drama. And nothing goes the way we expect it to.
On the other hand, nothing much really happens beyond a series of hapless, farcical incidents that seem to be teaching the characters something important about life.
This is a film about imperfect people who feel like they're lost, but are doing the best they can. So by the time we reach the climactic traffic jam, the film's punchline feels just about right, even if it's a cliche: "What happened?" "Everything." Yes, it's very simplistic, but it's also rather sweet.
And perhaps for a few minutes it makes us ponder whether there really is any meaning to life. Even if the film's answer is a shrug: "There must be.