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Film & DVD

In Your Queue: 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home,' 'Safety Not Guaranteed' and 'Dark Horse'

These three films, now streaming on Netflix, portray adults who fail at one of Western civilization's only rites of passage – leaving home

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JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Netflix) Conspiracy theorists – especially the ho-hum variety, like main character Jeff in this Duplass brothers film – fascinate me. The attention to detail in their observations communicates untapped ambition. This 2011 film speaks to that attraction, so I'm almost ready to jump on the bandwagon and say this is the mumblecore duo's best effort. But … Ed Helms' character, Jeff's brother Pat, reads like TV's Andy Bernard minus anger management. He was painful to watch and likely to blame for the movie's lesser appeal to audiences. However, with a purely triumphant finish and appearances by Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer, the movie offers train-wreck fascination throughout and small-smile optimism at the conclusion. – Ashley Belanger

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (Netflix) This 2012 film stars Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as a sarcastic, unimpressed magazine intern who lives with her dad. She impulsively decides to tag along with Jake Johnson (New Girl), who plays a grumpy magazine writer chasing a story lead he found on Craigslist. It's Mark Duplass (acting this time!) who saves this film, with a heartwarmingly convincing performance. It's a fast-paced, fun watch. – AB

DARK HORSE (Netflix) With this slow-to-unfold narrative, Todd Solondz's deftness for vocalizing internal thoughts that resonate with viewers is freakishly compelling. In this 2012 film, Solondz introduces us to Abe, who works for his father in commercial real estate (strip malls), lives in a polka-dotted teenager's bedroom and childishly defends his selfish behaviors in frantic sentence fragments. Abe's character plays out to the audience in a way that cleverly mirrors Abe's experience of himself. Sure, there are heavy-handed commerce metaphors and the title is name-dropped a time or two too many, but Selma Blair has not forgotten how to pout, Christopher Walken's stylist dressed him as Steve Buscemi, and the film ends on a note that sideswiped me with deep sadness and near-shocking empathy. – AB

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