By Chris Gore | December 10, 2001

This film has not yet been reviewed. Check back later for the complete review here on Synopsis: Frank Whaley (Joe the King, Sundance 1999) continues his directorial career with this story of an abject man fumbling within the spotlight of his self-realization as fate conspires to keep him down, or at least quiet. Good luck.

Jimmy is a young man carting a full load of burdens and dreams up a steep hill. He has lived with his invalid grandmother for years. Working in the stockroom of a grocery store (where he pilfers beer to compensate for his emotional emptiness), Jimmy is reminded daily of his powerlessness by his pencil-necked boss. Only his love for his wife (Carla Gugino) offers comfort, but their obligations to his grandmother and a new baby stifle their dreams. It’s not until open-mike night at the local comedy club that he allows himself to do what he needs to do: run off at the mouth.

It’s here that Whaley’s filmmaking and performance are at their bravest. In a series of intensely distilled monologues, Jimmy recounts the ironies of his life with the precision and cool gaze of a medical examiner. Whaley is riveting in these scenes, world weary with the vision of a man four times his age but alive with the exhilaration of Jimmy’s venomous few minutes in the spotlight. In the end, fate deals a hand and sets up a new enigma: does Jimmy have what it takes to deal with freedom? It’s a welcome tonic, but The Jimmy Show is equally rewarding for its brash originality and daring in etching a portrait of a man who refuses to take life’s disappointments lying down.

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