Double Screening Reviews: Jeff Who Lives At Home & Salmon Fishing in The Yemen

Happy Thursday all! Today I bring you two mini reviews that my friend Haley and I saw at an advanced screening this week.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home

Directors: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Stars: Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Judy Greer

Let me preface by saying I’m no writer, in fact a sheer sense of panic set in when Ruth asked me to write a review for her blog. I’m also no film connoisseur, but I am a visual person and movies are stories in pictures, I love that. Also, someone once told me that life begins when you step outside your comfort zone, so here goes…

So last night, I went with a group of 5 to a screening of Jeff, Who Lives at Home at the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown, Minneapolis. I must say, it was a far cry from Steve McQueen’s Shame I saw a couple of weeks prior that left me feeling uncomfortable, dirty and a overwhelmingly unsettled. But this isn’t about Shame…I still don’t know how I feel about that one.

The consensus for Jeff, Who Lives at Home was determined unanimously over post-movie drinks to be “Almost great”. Although it all left us with warm fuzzies and wondering what signs in our lives we may have been ignoring, it certainly wasn’t what we had expected. So many movies these days market themselves as comedies, cause everyone likes to laugh and feel good, but this was a different approach and may very well have been the best way to get people into the theater with a cast of comedians. It was funny, don’t get me wrong, and there was probably even one too many jokes about the unusually large size of Jason Segel, but definitely more of a drama than a comedy.

One of my friends proclaimed “Well, I liked it and I usually hate most movies”, so even with the toughest critics it seemed to hit some sort of chord. Despite not being great and not quite what we were expecting it was good. And as much as the yogi in me wants to trust in everything and have faith in the universe that eventually our destiny will be revealed I also sympathize with the skeptics and realists in the world that have been burned too many times by trusting in their optimism.

So if you are looking to be uplifted, laugh a little and almost shed a tear at the end, then this movie is for you. If you ever find yourself wondering if that little seemingly insignificant thing that happened to you today meant something more, than this movie is for you. If you have ever found yourself searching for meaning in life and know you were meant for great things that just haven’t revealed themselves yet, then this is for you. If you are looking for a naked Jason Segel and toothless Ed Helms then you may be somewhat disappointed. But for all the dreamers and optimists (or wannabes) in search of inspiration and happiness we so desperately need in our lives, this is a flick that shouldn’t be missed. Not to mention, I’ve always secretly wished Susan Sarandon was my Mom.

3 out of 5 reels

Review by Haley K.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Director: Lasse Hallström
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas

This movie is one of my most anticipated films I listed on this post, so when I got advanced screening tickets from my pal Ted, I was very excited. Thankfully it did not disappoint!

The one thing that grabbed me right away is the bizarre story, based on a novel of the same name by Paul Torday. I mean Salmon fishing in Yemen?? I mean how could the species that thrive in cold water survive in the hot climate of the Middle East??

Well, the protagonist Fred Jones (McGregor), a fisheries expert for the British government, ponders the exact same thing when he receives this peculiar request. His first meeting with a rep for a wealthy sheik (Blunt) at her office is quite a hoot to watch, especially the scene of him illustrating the impossibility of this project and making up some incredibly high amount of money (50 million Pounds!) in attempt to dissuade the sheik. But obviously money is no object and the sheik is willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen.

The sheik (Waked) mentions the notion of faith frequently to the atheistic Jones, challenging him that there’s more to life than ‘facts and figures.’ It’s not so much faith in religious terms so much as a conviction and believing that something could happen against all odds. The Egyptian-born Waked is so darn charismatic and charming, perfectly cast as a kind and wise Arab royalty who actually has a purpose for this seemingly preposterous project and not simply to indulge on his salmon fishing hobby.

This film is quite tricky to categorize, I mean it’s sold as a rom-com but there are elements of environmentalism, foreign relations and even terrorism, though not in a way you’d expect. In fact, it’s a rare film where a wealthy Arab is portrayed in a positive light and breaks the stereotype that not all of them want to blow up the West.

The casting is definitely a strong point here. McGregor and Blunt have a sweet chemistry together, and their slow-burn romance is wonderful to watch. Blunt has a more emotional performance here, which works pretty well against the more deadpan McGregor. I definitely enjoy seeing Scott Thomas in a comedic role as an over-zealous Britain Press Secretary. She’s so sarcastic it’s downright cruel, bossing everyone around including her own boss the Prime Minister. The iPhone chat between the two is pretty funny, but her reaction seeing the Arab guards dressed in Scottish kilts at the sheik’s castle prompted the most laughter, ‘Oooh, happy birthday Patricia!’

Aside from the few surprising twists and the quirky premise, this movie doesn’t really break new grounds. A lot of the scenes are quite predictable, but Swedish director Lasse Hallström’s direction made for an enjoyable and heart-warming movie. There are also gorgeous scenery of the Scottish highlands (and the sheik’s sprawling estate) and also Morocco which subs for Yemen.

So yeah, Salmon Fishing in Yemen is a fun catch (pardon the pun). It probably won’t be as fondly remembered as Chocolat, but I don’t even mind renting this again one day on DVD.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen any of these? If not, do either of them appeal to you?

31 thoughts on “Double Screening Reviews: Jeff Who Lives At Home & Salmon Fishing in The Yemen

  1. PrairieGirl

    Both films sound totally up my alley. I loved Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, sounds like he might be playing a somewhat similar character in JWLAH? And just the title of SFIY makes me want to see it 😀

    1. I think you’ll LOVE ‘Salmon Fishing.’ And since our taste in guys are similar, I bet you’d also be quite taken by Mr. Amr Waked 😀

    1. Not convinced?? What?? Well, I’d think the ‘Salmon Fishing’ one would appeal to you since you live in the UK. It really is a cute movie.

  2. JWLAH seemed like a generic indie to me…but i suppose generic can appeal to me. FIshing in the yemen never really caught my interest…it just seemed a bit cheesey to me from the trailers. I might still check it out when it goes on dvd

    1. Ahah, our movie taste is so different. I actually love the trailer for ‘Salmon Fishing’ and fortunately the movie lives up to it.

  3. Ted S.

    These are the kind of films that doesn’t interest me much but who knows, maybe when they’re on TV someday, I might watch them.

    1. Ted S.

      You know I’m one of the few guys who doesn’t think Emily Blunt is that pretty, I mean she’s cute but I just don’t find her that attractive. She’s a very good actress though.

  4. Glad you liked both for the most part. I don’t really have any interest in seeing either in theater but I might rent them down the road. Jeff Who Lives at Home has a solid cast but the trailer didn’t win me over. And the title for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is about as dull as it gets ahah… Yemen? Salmon Fishing? Really? 😛

    1. That’s funny that you found the title dull, for me it’s the opposite. I was like what is THAT about?? 🙂 It’s a good movie, Castor, you should give it a shot.

  5. Nice writeups. That poster for Salmon Fishing really looks horribly photoshopped, makes it seem like a fairytale. The title, like Scott says seem horrible and uninviting…who wants to watch salmon fishing? Looking at the score though it’s one that’s worth watching though!

    1. Ahah, actually in the film that shot was filmed in Morroco so no, not a fairy tale 🙂 Trust me, don’t judge a film by its title. Give it a shot and you might enjoy it.

  6. Must say I am definitely jealous you got to see both of these at early screenings, Ruth! I’ve been especially excited to see Jeff, Who Lives at Home, because I’m a fan of all the main cast, and I totally relate to imagining Susan Sarandon as my mom, Haley 🙂

    The title alone “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” doesn’t really appeal to me, but I really like Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, so I was thinking I might make an exception and see this. Enjoyed the early reviews, Ruth!

    1. Oh I only went to one of them, m’dear 🙂 Wow, seems like a lot of people have aversion to the name to ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,’ perhaps the studio should change that, ahah.

  7. I haven’t seen either one, but I enjoyed reading both of your reviews.

    Out of the 2, I want to see Salmon Fishing most! Glad that you rated it so high, Ruth!

    Thank you Haley and Ruth for your insights on these fun films. Aren’t pre-screenings so much fun?

    1. I really do like ‘Salmon Fishing’ T, don’t be dissuaded by the name. It’s a really sweet movie.

      I don’t get to see pre-screenings all that often but when they happen it sure is awesome!

  8. Never hated Jason Segel’s performances before, so Jeff Who Lives At Home sounds great. Also want to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen after reading your review! (I can’t comment with my usual e-mail, don’t know why so I use twitter). Have a great weekend, Ruth

    1. That’s weird about your email, must be a glitch. Hope things are back to normal now. Thanks Andina, hope your weekend was nice.

  9. I saw Jeff, Who Lives at Home over the weekend and it was pretty enjoyable. I like the direction the Duplass brothers are going in, and it will be interesting to see what they do next.

    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is one I will probably wait for on DVD, but it looks like it could be a fun movie as well. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are a good duo for sure.

    1. ‘Salmon Fishing’ definitely worth a rental if you like those two, Eric. I actually like Emily more here than in Adjustment Bureau.

  10. nevertooearlymp

    Nice reviews! Salmon Fishing sounds like it might be more up my alley, but that is partially that I’m still trying to get my mind wrapped around the idea of a Jason Segel/Ed Helms film that has a message.

  11. Really looking forward to both. Ewan McGregor’s just got a great onscreen presence, I’ll happily watch anything with him in it. And Jason Segel? So glad he’s getting on the big screen more. He’s just wasted on How I Met Your Mother and is too good for that show!

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