“Lonesome Jim” is the story of a depressed wanna-be writer (Affleck) who, having spent his last dime in New York City, is forced to take a bus back home to Indiana to live with his family. This does not make Jim happy. Although his mother (Place) and father (Cassel) seem very normal, we quickly discover a situation that’s truly depressing for everyone except for mom. It’s easy to see her being happy scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush it seems. The whole family dynamic is like one of those situations where you go to a friends house for Christmas and he warns you how terrible they are but when you get there, they seem normal. It just goes to show that every parent has a unique gift for screwing up their kid whether they want to or not.
If you’re a fan of Steve Buscemi’s “Trees Lounge,” you’re doing to love “Lonesome Jim.” Like it’s predecessor, “Lonesome Jim” is a simple, no frills story-line told with total deadpan humor that fits in perfectly with the downward spiral of Jim’s life. One thing after another happens to Jim and one can’t help but laugh at the sad craziness of it all.
Things start to brighten for Jim as he gets lucky with a tipsy waitress played by Liv Tyler. In the past, many have complained that Tyler comes across as flat and dull on-screen unless she’s playing anything but an elf. I never thought those accusations were true until now. Tyler easily slips through the cracks as every other actor in this film inhabits their role.
Affleck is dead on as the hapless Jim but the film is nearly stolen from him by Mark Boone Jr. who plays Jim’s drug induced Uncle Evil. Kevin Corrigan is also great as Jim’s brother Tim.
With such terrible experiences and dark depression haunting Jim, I’m still amazed I laughed as much as I did during this film. But maybe I was laughing because I was glad all these terrible things weren’t happening to me.