Lonesome Jim

By  · Published on September 20th, 2006

Release Date: August 29, 2006

I believe Josh Tyler from Cinema Blend said it best when he said that there are just some movies that you want to be good. In fact, there are some movies for which I don’t even need to see a trailer in order to yearn for excellence, just the involvement of certain people can get me excited about a film. One particularly good example is Lonesome Jim, a film produced and directed by one of my favorite Hollywood denizens, Steve Buscemi. This led me to be very excited about the film, no matter the outcome. Unfortunately being excited about a film does not guarantee that the film will be great, in fact it can easily set you up for a painful letdown, which is ultimately the case with Lonesome Jim.

The story, which is an adaption of the real life of writer James Strouse, is centered around a writer named Jim (Casey Affleck) who has moved back home to live with his parents after failing to make it on his own. Shamefully Jim drudges through his present, fighting off his past and attempting to put off having to deal with his future. Along the way he is forced to deal with his suicidal brother (Kevin Corrigan) and his crazy uncle (Mark Boone Junior) who is selling drugs out of their family owned factory. Jim also meets Anika (Liv Tyler), a single mom who attempts to bring Jim out of his slump with her constant positivity.

Unfortunately for Anika, Jim has become completely numb to his life, or at least that is how he seems thanks to a lackluster performance from Casey Affleck. Jim is supposed to be this depressed, closed off guy who is searching for meaning, but he ends up looking more like an unaffected, despicable human being with no underlying good. This leaves the audience trapped, we are supposed to be rooting for this guy to end up happy, but by the time that comes around we just don’t care anymore.

And whether that is the fault of Affleck or of the inexperienced direction of Buscemi, that is a fact that consumes the film, leaving the audience yearning for their money back. The film is intended to be a comedy, but its humor only works in spurts between deeply depressing blurbs of dialog. It is a shoddy, unpolished film that tells James Strouse’s personal story, a fact that leaves me pitying him more than applauding him. The film feels slow, and the story develops even more slowly. I was waiting for it to become inspirational or heartwarming, and after a while I would have settled for just funny. In the end though, Lonesome Jim is nothing more than a tragic disappointment.

The Upside: The film does end, at some point.

The Downside: The film is not inspirational, nor is it heartwarming, nor is it even funny.

On the Side: Several members of the writer’s family appears in the film. His brother plays one of the Drug Enforcement Agents. His father is the neighbor in the trampoline scene. His mother appears briefly in the scene when Jim nearly hits a tree. Finally, Jim’s nieces Sarah and Rachel are the writer’s actual nieces.

Final Grade: D

DVD Grade: F

The DVD provides absolutely no help to the film. There is a short-lived featurette that includes Steve Buscemi talking about the experience of making the film. The same information can be found in the commentary, which is equally as uninviting.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)