Finnegan Jones is a 40-year-old cemetery caretaker with Tourette’s Syndrome. He refuses to take his medication, and thus he is given to shrieks and odd noises that create embarrassment. He is also haunted by his father’s suicide from years ago and begins each morning by playing Russian Roulette. Finnegan lives with his unsympathetic mother, who seems to have studied parenting by watching “The Glass Menagerie” and subjects Finnegan to swooping indignities including endless verbal abuse and a clumsy matchmaking hook-up with a giddy fat woman. Finnegan, however, unexpectedly finds kinship with a mysterious green-haired 12-year-old girl named Syd. Despite the obvious difference in their ages, Finnegan and Syd create a close platonic friendship which is inevitably threatened when a hitherto unknown secret from Syd’s young life is revealed.
Owing more than a little inspiration to the 1962 French classic “Sundays and Cybele” (but without any of that Oscar-winning film’s tragic innocence), “Crazy Jones” is a fairly dreary exercise coordinated by its director-producer-writer-star Joe Allen. Wearing nerdy clothing and nerdy glasses and given to a hammy inventory of ticks and yelps, Allen’s Finnegan presents the worst possible stereotype of a Tourette’s Syndrome patient imaginable. People who suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome are able to lead normal and highly productive lives, which this film seems unable to conceive and unwilling to acknowledge. If that is not bad enough, the film’s use of a plus-size woman as romantic comedy relief is equally unfortunate and its indiscriminate subplot involving electroshock therapy owes more to Sam Fuller’s “Shock Corridor” than to contemporary medical practices. What in the world was Allen thinking when he wrote this movie?
Allen bears a slight resemblance to Robin Williams, but he lacks the star’s shameless ability to roll in the bathos and his Finnegan comes across as being merely unlikeable rather than as a force of emotion (either genuine or synthetic, if compared to a typical Robin Williams flick). The rest of the cast barely rise above the level of community theater performances and there is no fairness in picking apart individual performances.
The sole saving grace to “Crazy Jones” is Brian J. Reynolds’ peerless cinematography. Shot in the new 24P High Definition technology which offers resolution that rivals film (most videotape runs 30 fields per second, resulting in dropped frames when video is transferred to film), “Crazy Jones” offers some of the most uncommonly beautiful cinematography to be found in any film currently in release. Lovers of fine art photography will be most impressed with Reynolds’ mastery of this new camera technology, and for that reason “Crazy Jones” deserves to be seen.