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Likable ‘Jimmy’ Keeps Things Moving

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sam Henry Kass’ “The Search for ‘One-Eye’ Jimmy” is a slight but likable comical look at some young layabouts in the run-down Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. In spirit it’s lots closer to Damon Runyon than the far more sophisticated and substantial “Smoke” and its sequel “Blue in the Face.”

But Kass, “Seinfeld’s” head writer in his feature debut, does keeps things moving, sprinkles in some jokes and fills the screen with lots of good people. He winds up spoofing the very kind of film he’s making--those no-budget slice-of-life movies that sometimes too easily impress Hollywood moguls (and maybe critics, too). “The Search” is seriously minor in its aspirations and accomplishments, but it’s relaxed and good-natured, taking an affectionate embrace of one and all.

Les (Holt McCallany) has somehow made it out of South Brooklyn to go to film school “on the Coast” and has returned to turn his camera on his old neighborhood. He hasn’t a clue as to what he’s going to do, so he’s excited when a subject drops in his lap: a record of the search for One-Eye Jimmy Hoyt, who’s been gone for two days. The trouble is that the neighborhood guys aren’t all that concerned with the whereabouts of One-Eye, and they’re wondrously inept yet self-serving in whatever feeble attempts they make at trying to track him down. Only One-Eye’s mother (Anne Meara) is getting anxious.

It may be overstating it to say that these young men are none too bright. Key among them is a car thief from the Dominican Republic, played by Nick Turturro, who is forever stealing a vehicle belonging to his pal (Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini), whose sole distinction is that he is a car owner in the first place.

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Another of Turturro’s best pals is a hefty guy (Michael Baldalucci), widely believed to be a virgin and whose idea of independence is leaving his parents’ home to move in with his grandparents. None of these guys seem to have jobs and apparently are past worrying about it. One-Eye’s brother (Steve Buscemi) does consider himself as having a job: He takes pictures of people posing with a life-size photo cut-out of a popular wrestler--for $5 a shot. You guessed it: He doesn’t seem to have many takers.

In cameos are Jennifer Beals, who’s unexpectedly whirled into a dance by Baldalucci; Samuel L. Jackson as a Viet vet street person; and John Turturro, frenetically funny as a disco king caught in a time warp. Kass lets “The Search for ‘One-Eye’ Jimmy” ramble the way in which you’d assume Les would, but he knows how to bring it to a pretty funny finish.

* MPAA rating: R, for strong language. Times guidelines: The film’s street talk is realistically laced with four-letter words.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

‘The Search for “One-Eye” Jimmy’

Nick Turturro: Junior

Steve Buscemi: Ed Hoyt

Michael Baldalucci: Joe Head

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Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini: Lefty

Holt McCallany: Les

Anne Meara: Holly Hoyt

A Northern Arts Entertainment in association with Cabin Fever Entertainment presentation. Writer-director Sam Henry Kass. Producers Lisa Bruce & Robert Nickson. Executive producer Alexandre Heylen. Cameras directed by Robert Nickson. Cinematographer Chuck Levey. Documentary camera Lodge H. Kerrigan. Editor Mark Juergens. Costumes Joan Fedyszyn. Music William Bloom. Production designer Ray Recht. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

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* Exclusively at the Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869.


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