Lymelife (2008)

**½

Lymelife is a movie about deer killing, pool tables, and very, very awkward love-making scenes.

Alec Baldwin plays Mickey, a father of two living in rural New York. Mickey is a man who probably never says sorry, even when he means it. Scott, his youngest son, is having bully and girl troubles. Jimmy, his grown-up son who is apparently in the Army, has come home for awhile, and I don’t really know why his character is in this movie. Charlie Bragg, the Bartletts’ neighbor, has recently contracted lyme disease, and is distant because of it. His wife, losing interest, sleeps with Mickey. Everything starts going wrong when everyone finds out.

Lymelife would have benefited from a bit more backstory to its characters. Show, don’t tell. This movie doesn’t show, it just tells. It tries to show suburban life, but this isn’t suburbia (despite what “Jimmy” tells us). Why are these characters doing the things they’re doing? Only so much can be blamed on acting. And it tries to be funny, but the humor is usually too dark, too hit-or-miss, or too steeped in sad dramatic irony for it to work.

Timothy Hutton’s speech in the 51st minute was one of the most powerful of the film, but I was drawn out because of the poor delivery and performance. These words (are supposed to) mean more to this man than Scott can imagine, yet he’s just blurting them out without any emotion. He has another supposed-to-be-strong scene later in the film, with Alec Baldwin. It’s better, but it still falls a bit flat, and I think I have to blame that on Baldwin, one of my favorites.

I never really bought Adrianna or the storyline between her and Scott. I understand why it has to be in the movie, but better acting and better writing in one or two scenes alone would have made this film substantially better. The scene in which the bully gets beat up, though, is shot beautifully. We only see what’s happening through the reflection on the car window. The 1970s atmosphere is very believable. The vomit scene interestingly shot, with no words… only emotion (finally).

The movie picks up (albeit rather late) when Baldwin’s character is kicked out of his own house because his wife, portrayed by a very good Jill Hennessy, can’t stand his cheating anymore. Scott and his father reunite one night, though, smoking together. That’s one of the scenes that is heartfelt and works. It gains momentum from there, benefiting from being about just the three central Bartletts. They actually feel like a real, struggling family at this point. I found interesting that on his confirmation day, Scott is forced to wear a robe that has his father’s name on it.

Lymelife is interesting… mostly during the last half hour, though. If you want to see a better version of this movie, please check out The Squid and the Whale.

Notes:

  • Why do their kids look like that? Why did they cast the Culkin brothers? Rory can’t seem to act during the first half of the movie.
  • Scott and Ralphie from A Christmas Story fight very similarly.
  • “Nice shirt there, big guy.”
  • “I’m not like Radar, okay! I just do what he does on the show!”
  • “The inside of a jelly donut.”
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