Craig Roberts (22 Jump Street, Neighbors) leaps behind the camera to write and direct (as well as star in) the new absurdly hilarious dramedy Just Jim: his directorial debut about an awkward boy, a boring town, and the sexy American who arrives to stir things up a bit.
Jim (Roberts) is a painfully lonely soul placed in a Welsh village that is not only cluttered with oddballs, but hell-bent on rejecting him. His eagerness to make friends only isolates him more, to the point where even his parents- although polite -regard him with annoyed tolerance. That is until the mysteriously cool Dean (Emile Hirsch, Lone Survivor) suddenly moves in next door. In a series of deranged and comedic events, Dean enlists himself as Jim’s mentor, coaxing the teen into debauchery.
For his first feature- and his first movie, period – Roberts creates a highly entertaining and visually appealing piece of work with Just Jim. It’s quirky, sad, and amusing all at once as we watch Jim’s desperate plights for popularity and friendship, and the sharp performances (particularly by Hirsch) manage to help motivate the audience in Jim’s favor.
An interesting tonal transition occurs in Act III, taking all of the eccentric, likeable, lighthearted energy prevalent in the first half of the story and totally shifting into a darker gear; suddenly Jim’s silly actions have serious consequences, and the cool-headed image of Dean begins to shapeshift into something entirely different.
It’s a movie inspired by John Hughes and Rebel Without a Cause, and its ending is one must experience firsthand. All-in-all, Just Jim proved to be a pleasure to screen, infusing laughter and drama and suspense into one thorough production.