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"Lonesome Jim"

Directed by Steve Buscemi.
Written by James C. Strouse.
Starring Casey Affleck, Liv Tyler, Mary Kay Place and Mark Boone Jr.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  4/4/06


I sent myself downtown this evening to catch the latest flick from actor/director Steve Buscemi, "Lonesome Jim", mostly because it was free.  And, for the low, low price of zero dollars and zero cents, this movie was a nice break from the real world.

Casey Affleck plays Jim, a living zombie that has moved back from Manhattan to his parents' house in Indiana because he's out of cash and out of hope that he will make something of his life at the ripe ol' age of 27.  Jim, whose brother Tim (Kevin Corrigan) is even more of a lowlife than Jim has turned out to be, spends his time bouncing between activities like napping, sitting on one of his parents' recliners or driving to one of the three local bars named Riki.  In other words, his life has come to be a big bowl of shit and he knows what's he going to do to make something of himself?  After telling Tim what a useless bum he is--and watching Tim take Jim's advice in attempting to kill himself--Jim starts work for his father's company, gets a ton of advice from his mom (Mary Kay Place) and hangs out with his uncle Stacy, aka "Evil" (Mark Boone Jr.), a man who has a strange penchant for hookers, weed and crack.  And, Jim somehow meets a beautiful nurse (Liv Tyler) that is actually interested in hangin' out with his sorry part, because of Jim's connection to the nurse's 8-year-old son Ben (Jack Rovello).

"Lonesome Jim" gets the majority of its laughs, as well as its overall tone, from the monotone, sleepy-eyed performance of Affleck, and for some reason this works since the film has enough oddballs in the Evil and Tim characters, as well as the decision to have Mom be the most upbeat mother ever.  The balance of the characters is strong, and much like Buscemi's best performances in "Fargo", "Con Air", "Ghost World" and "The Big Lebowski", the consistently whacked-out nature of the jokes combined with some perfect comic pauses and timing makes for some good times.

The cinematography and the grainy look of the film (I'm guessing digital cameras, no refining of the final print) actually adds a layer to the lowly situation that Jim has found himself in; even in terms of making his bland outfits look boring, the blurred vision of the camera makes us feel even more sorry for this guy...when he's not hosing his mom by asking to borrow the family minivan while neglecting a free ride for Mom to get to the grocery store.  The soundtrack is sparse but it still works well for the quick running time.

I was bored at times, and in a couple of instances the character of Jim is just that way; I also found myself constantly wondering what the fuck a woman of the nurse's caliber is doing with such a lowbrow, but I'm just one man, you know?  I also hated the ending.  But, for the most part, "Lonesome Jim" was entertaining and worth the time; it's a lot funnier than you think it's going to be.  This one might be better left for video, since it's only going to show out briefly in theaters this spring.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09