‘Lymelife’ excavates depths of life in the suburbs

"Lymelife" is nominally about an outbreak of the tick-borne disease, but don't take that title too literally.

It's really about suburban malaise, and mainly uses Lyme as a metaphor for the kind of sickness you find in subdivisions, which, as filmmakers keep reminding us, is of the moral and spiritual variety.

"Lymelife," though, is funnier than most movies of its kind, and its nimble cast manages to find humor and a little humanity in a story that's fascinated by the downside of upward mobility.

Alec Baldwin plays yet another demented tyrant - Mickey, a boozing, womanizing real-estate developer who has moved his family from Queens to Long Island, where he's building and selling some early form of the McMansion (the movie is set in the late 1970s).

Mickey's wife (Jill Hennessy) is a city girl who hates the suburbs, leading to a marriage whose chill sends Mickey into the warm arms of a colleague (Cynthia Nixon), herself increasingly estranged from her husband (Timothy Hutton) who has the title disease, and does a lot of moping.

"Lymelife" is actually told from the point of view of Mickey's teen son Scott, played by Rory Culkin, who validates some of the promise he showed in "Igby Goes Down." It's a fairly busy role - Scott wrestles with puberty, school bullies, class resentment, the growing realization that his parents might actually detest each other. Beyond that, he hopes to wrestle with the pretty neighborhood girl (Emma Roberts) with whom he's been in love since he was 8 years old.

She happens to be the daughter of a woman Mickey has seduced, and that's quite a coincidence, but "Lymelife" is hip to its farcical aspects and plays it as such. The movie's biggest laugh comes when Scott finally gets a girl in his bedroom and realizes he's about to get incredibly, undeservedly lucky.

Like most kids his age, he's a "Star Wars" fan, and director Derick Martini frames a funny shot of Culkin and Roberts sitting on the bed, separated by a plastic model of the Millenium Falcon. Scott sends the Falcon flying at a speed approaching hyperspace.

There are nostalgic movies about teens who fell in love with "Star Wars," and teens who fell in love with smart, pretty girls. There's something to be said for the latter. *

Produced by Steven Mart*n*, Barbara DeF*na, Jon Corn*ck, Alec Baldw*n, M*chele Tayler and Angela Somerv*lle, d*rected by Der*ck Mart*n*, wr*tten by Der*ck Mart*n* and Steven Mart*n*, mus*c by Steven Mart*n*, d*str*buted by Screen Med*a F*lms.


Lymelife

Directed by Steven Martini, Derick Martini. With Emma Roberts, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Alec Baldwin, Adam Scarimbolo, Cynthia Nixon, Kieran Culkin, Phillip Pennestri, Rory Culkin, Logan Huffman. Distributed by Screen Media Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 35 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for language, some sexual content, violence and drug use).