Return with me now to the glorious year 1979, when the air was dirty, the only thing uglier than fashion was interior design, and the children were expected to be more mature than the adults.
Lymelife is a new movie from Derick and Steve Martini, who are (amusingly) too young to remember the time they’re writing and directing about! But they do a good job, mostly, of capturing the time. If I were to quibble, I’d point out that the fashions are maybe a little too restrained, that there was never a disco song playing on the jukebox, and oddly, I swear that when they showed angry Iranians, they showed them with an effigy of Reagan, which doesn’t make any sense.
Also, there was a discussion of the Falklands and how it would result in the older boy being mobilized sooner. That didn’t make sense to me. It might be true, but since Falklands was several years later and a British conflict that they resolved easily on their own, I think, I’m not sure how it was likely to be an issue. Also, prior to the conflict, nobody had ever heard of the Falklands.
As long as I haven’t actually talked about what it’s about, I’d like to say that this movie has an awful tagline. To wit: The American Dream Sucks. This movie isn’t really about the American dream. It’s really just a coming-of-age story where the flow is interrupted by parents who think they can treat their relationships casually without affecting their children.
The story is focused on 15-year-old Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) who adores his father, Micky (Alec Baldwin, who’s so good at playing an asshole, you start to wonder how much an act it is) and can’t figure out why his worried, unhappy mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessy) is such a drag. He’s being tortured by his long-time female friend, Adrianna (Emma Roberts) who clearly likes him but is hanging around older bad boys.
When the story begins, Scott’s mother is duct-taping his clothes shut so that the ticks don’t get him–there’s apparently an outbreak of lyme disease on Long Island–and he gets to listen to his parents fighting about whether he can go hunting, and the girl he longs for is not returning the affection, and he gets beaten up by a bully.
The other family in this drama are the Braggs, Adrianna’s parents. Charlie and Melissa (Timothy Hutton and Cynthia Nixon) have their own problems. Charlie has lyme disease, maybe, though it’s obviously pretty advanced, and Melissa–who dresses in a ‘70s porn style (which was not uncommon back then)–sells real estate in Mickey Bartlett’s office.
At this point, the story practically writes itself, but the catalyst for the events that unfold over the next 90-odd minutes is Scott’s older brother Jimmy (Kieran Culkin), on leave from the Army. Jimmy knows a lot more about what’s going on between mom and dad, and the relatively naive Scott ends up having his worldview radically altered.
The Boy said it was good, but he asked me later if there were any “feel-good” movies out that we could go see.
We do seem to be steeped in movies about dysfunction. And none of the wacky comedies we’ve seen lately have turned out to be wacky comedies.
Sad thing is, I couldn’t point to any! Maybe we’ll go see Monsters vs. Aliens.
So, yeah, it’s a good movie, but enough of the dysfunction, you know? I know it means you get taken seriously, and the actors like it because they get to act up a storm, but it’s low hanging fruit. Especially in this case, where there’s not much else going on.
With Is Anybody There? you have the old-folks angle, and with Sunshine Cleaning you have the crime scene cleanup, but here–like The Squid and the Whale–you just have a family coming undone.
Again, good, but it can be a tiring diet.