The suburbs…Where normal means dysfunctional. Where slow-aged middle managers get that full-body finish. Where how many prescriptions you fill is proportional to the square footage of your house. Where looking out the window in the afternoon is as entertaining as watching Lifetime. Where the universe is obviously expanding. Where pets are treated better than people. And where cleanliness being next to godliness is about as beautiful an adage as dust collecting on test tubes.
The 90s had a whole string of movies that took these places, where the puddles meet the pavement (last one I promise), and stomped boots down to see where the mud would fly. Stemming from movies like Short Cuts, Ordinary People, and later, The Ice Storm, the genre really settled down during the home owning craze of the 1990s, which spit out about a thousand movies I don’t really care to recall without a six-pack of jelly donuts on hand. Once American Beauty hit, I think we collectively decided we’d had our fill, and independent movies started added offbeat themes to the genre: Donnie Darko, Juno, Punch-Drunk Love, or something with a school shooting or a briefcase full of money or a young homosexual growing into new jeans. They weren’t just about midlife crises anymore. And that was fine.
And in 2009, a time where a house in the suburbs feels less like a place near good schools and more like a stack of Nordstrom credit cards next to an air mattress, we get Lymelife. It’s directed by Derick Martini and features an excellent off-the-bench cast, including Rory Culkin, Emma Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Timothy Hutton and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. It’s about Scott (Rory Culkin), his ripping-at-the-perforated-seams family, trying to get his beautiful neighbor to like him without shamefully sacrificing his awesome Star Wars collectibles, and New Jersey.
If American Beauty is the house with the bright red door, Lymelife is the pool house and the shed.
Taken in snapshots, there’s nothing interesting about this movie. It’s set in the late 70s (God, again with the 70s?). The older brother comes back home on leave from the military and ends up in Oedipal shoving matches with the father. Rory Culkin’s character, Scott, is in love with his long-time friend, Adrianna, who’s too busy dating an older boy named Blaze to give him the attention he deserves. His overprotective mother duct tapes his clothes to avoid ticks and Lyme disease. And so on, and so on. Despite these clich