Crazy Jones

Echoes of "Harold & Maude" resonate throughout "Crazy Jones," a gentle comedy in which friendship between mismatched outsiders provides a gratifying outlet for both. Generally pleasing item could turn up on cable or in niche venues, and regardless will serve as a proud calling card for helmer-scribe Joe Aaron.

With:
With: Joe Aaron, Francesca Catalano, Elizabeth Ince, Tess Borden, Jim O'Donoghue, Oto Brezina.

Echoes of “Harold & Maude” resonate throughout “Crazy Jones,” a gentle comedy in which friendship between mismatched outsiders provides a gratifying outlet for both. Generally pleasing item could turn up on cable or in niche venues, and regardless will serve as a proud calling card for helmer-scribe Joe Aaron.

Aaron plays Finnegan Jones, a suicidal grave-tender suffering from Tourette’s syndrome, living with his overprotective mother (Elizabeth Ince) and preparing to turn 40. Convinced he’ll need a caretaker after she’s gone, Joe’s mother sets about seeking a prospective spouse. Her candidate — a bubbly, corpulent neighbor (Tess Borden) whose insensitivity to Finnegan’s condition only aggravates the malady — couldn’t be worse. Instead, he’s begun to bond with a quirky, precocious 12-year-old named Syd (Francesca Catalano), whose refusal to pass judgment allows Finnegan to find his own voice. The friendship never advances beyond the purely platonic, though Catalano’s Syd is a remarkably assured and fitting counterpart to Aaron’s Finnegan. Penultimate section takes things in a regrettably maudlin and vaguely predictable direction, and dialogue at times feels stiff. Still, Aaron demonstrates an eye for composition and framing that well exceeds that of most first-time filmmakers.

Crazy Jones

Production: Produced by Joe Aaron, Keith Coene. Co-producer, Kim Reeder. Directed, written by Joe Aaron.

Crew: Camera (FotoKem color), Brian J. Reynolds; editors, Margaret Guinee, Wilt Henderson; music, Jeff Beal; production designer, Bob Hummel; costume designer, Ryck Schmidt; casting, Desiree Garcia. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, March 2, 2002. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Joe Aaron, Francesca Catalano, Elizabeth Ince, Tess Borden, Jim O'Donoghue, Oto Brezina.

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