Commentary

March 30, 2012

Fly Over: March 30, 2012

Welcome to the Fly Over, Luke’s source for movie, book, video game, music and all things entertainment reviews. Using a four-point scale, the Thunderbolt staff provides in-depth reviews allowing the viewer an opportunity to decide what new and classic entertainment options are worth their time. The Know a Critic section helps the reader choose critics who have tastes similar to their own.

‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’

An underachiever looks for meaning in the mundane

by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter

Near the end of “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” the title character (played by Jason Segel) is stuck in traffic in a taxi while attempting to cross a bridge. He says to the cab driver, “Do you ever feel like you’ve waited forever to figure out what your destiny is, then when you do, it’s not that exciting?”

Jeff’s rhetorical question sums up the message it would seem the movie is trying to express.

The film, written and directed by brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, is ostensibly about family, marriage, infidelity and man’s search for the meaning in everyday occurrences. It’s a shame it doesn’t have anything interesting to say about any of those things.

The entire movie takes place in one day in the lives of Jeff, his brother Pat (Ed Helms) and their mother (Susan Sarandon). Jeff, as we know from the title, lives at home in their mother’s basement, where he spends his time smoking pot, watching television, and assigning significance to the happenstance.

Their mother dispatches him on an errand, which sets in motion the chain of events that drives the narrative structure of the film.

What we are in for is some camerawork that is often jerky and includes a lot of close-ups; while I’m sure this was intentional, it was also distractingly bad. What we are not in for is good entertainment.

Although billed as a comedy, the movie is painfully short on laughs. Mercifully, it’s short, with a run time of just 83 minutes.

Jason Segel can be funny and charming, as he proved in “I Love You, Man” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” In this role, however, he’s just forgettable. He plays a 30-year-old who, we are told, has not had a girlfriend since high school. As a sadsack with no ambition, we can see why. While we may be sympathetic to this sensitive lost soul, Segel fails to connect with the audience in a meaningful way.

Ed Helms is also unremarkable as Jeff’s abrasive brother, Pat. The conflict between him and his unfaithful wife, Linda (Judy Greer) provides the backdrop for the day’s events. Their eventual confrontation in a hotel room, though, is anticlimactic because we don’t care enough about the characters.

Meanwhile, there is also a subplot involving their mother’s day at work, where we find out she has a secret admirer. As the narratives simultaneously unfold and reach resolution, the movie attempts to be a meditation on the nature of love and family. Unfortunately, it’s all too predictable.

Throughout the movie, Jeff, preoccupied with the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Signs,” is constantly looking for a hidden significance in every little thing, for meaning in the mundane. In this movie, the signs all point to one conclusion: skip it.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is rated R for drug use, language and adult situations. 

Tristan Hinderliter is a full-time Public Affairs Officer and part-time pop culture critic. When he’s not listening to the Adam Carolla Podcast, he’s usually watching movies. His favorite directors include David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese and Alexander Payne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PlayGrounds Fun Zone & Cafe

by Master Sgt. Cindy Dorfner

I’m always leery of indoor kids’ play areas. It seems no matter how well intentioned, they always just feel dirty. So, when I was invited to meet some other moms at the PlayGrounds Fun Zone & Café in Glendale,

I was slightly hesitant. Once we got there, my worries were put to rest.

PlayGrounds is a 3,500 square foot indoor play facility for kids under 8, but there’s something for the parents,
as well. With comfy couches and several tables and
chairs, parents can relax and enjoy a coffee from the barista. The whole family can enjoy breakfast or lunch from a full menu of salads, sandwiches and treats. As expected, there’s a kids’ menu that even features a Fluffernutter sandwich.

Kids (and parents) check in at the “Ranger Station”
and then head off to explore the “north woods.” The décor is cute and bright.

The actual play equipment at first appears small, but my 4- and 2-year olds explored, climbed, crawled and slid for hours. There’s also an area for the smaller ones under 42-inches. We’ve been there twice and the second time it got pretty crowded, but amazingly, it wasn’t very loud. And, the staff sanitizes it every day.

Prices are reasonable and if you buy a “punch card,”
it’s downright cheap. And, they even offer a 20-percent military discount. Also, once you’re there, you can stay. You don’t pay by the hour or for a two-hour block. Just don’t forget your socks.

PlayGrounds opened almost a year ago by a dad,
James Bernau, who wanted a fun place “where kids can play and parents want to stay.” This family of four thinks he did just that. We’ll be going back for my son’s birthday party in May. To find out more, visit www.playgroundsfunzone.com.

 

Store hours:

  • Monday ““ closed
  • Tuesday through Saturday ““ 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday ““ 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rates:

  • Standard ““ $8
  • Sibling ““ $6
  • 5-punch card ““ $25
  • 10-punch card ““ $45
  • Full month ““ $46
  • 2nd child full month ““ $23

 

Cindy Dorfner is always trying to find fun things to do and great places to eat. She and her husband, Eric, and kids, Aidan and Ellia, aren’t afraid to travel to find the gems. They hope to spend the next couple of years finding as many as possible in and around Phoenix.

 




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