Nothing big has ever happened to Jeff, but living in a fog of pot smoke in his mum's basement means that he hasn't stopped dreaming of some important date with destiny. You wouldn't buy into this vision, if not for the fact that Jason Segel imbues the thirty-something slacker with charm and an admirable courage about his convictions.
Jeff's brother Pat (Ed Helms reliving The Hangover) is at the other end of the delusional spectrum. Uncomfortably ensconced in a boring job and a passionless marriage to Linda (Judy Greer), he wakes up one day convinced that a new Porsche will make his life exciting again. Susan Sarandon is their widowed mother Sharon who seems to have given up on having any fun at all.
When we meet Jeff he's watching M Night Shyamalan's Signs for the umpteenth time, hypnotised by its message and looking out for the cosmic indicators that will lead him on his own path to greatness. It's an amusing reverie, rudely broken when Sharon calls from work and sends him on an errand to the hardware store. But, of course, this sets in motion a series of life-changing events.
The decision makes a deep impact - knuckle deep - but things really start to get weird when Pat drives by in his new Porsche. They then spot Linda having a cosy lunch with a mystery man and begin to tail her. The brothers' ideological differences become painfully and funnily clear, especially when Jeff is distracted from the mission by a truck with the name 'Kevin' on the side.
Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (who also wrote and directed the Jonah Hill vehicle Cyrus) have a sharp and insightful approach to the problem of arrested development. They show due deference to mum for the sacrifices she has made while, at the same time, poking fun at her sons for their misguided attempts to recapture that pure warm feeling of belonging.
Perhaps then it shouldn't feel so strange that Sharon is the more rounded of all the characters. She's boxed in by responsibility (literally, she works in a cubicle), but starts to loosen up after receiving a message from a secret admirer. It's an affectionate portrayal and Sarandon is thoroughly engaging, but the Duplass brothers are a little cruel when it comes to revealing her suitor.
Likewise, an over-the-top finale makes Jeff - and his eerie sense of predestination - look a bit foolish, and the brothers don't really evolve (they only bond). It's unclear whether the filmmakers are trying to pull our leg or tug on our heartstrings, so it can't hit the mark squarely in either case. Ultimately, this won't change your life, but keep an open mind and it might just brighten your day.