“Lymelife” raids two of Hollywood’s most famouse genepools – the Culkins and the Baldwins – and manages to pull out the best pieces and plug them into a gloomy coming of age story based around Lyme disease. It’s quite a feat, really, though not one I’m sure I’d ever want to see repeated.
Theoretically it’s set in ’80s Long Island, but somehow it feels more like ’70s Arkansas. Lyme disease comes from deer ticks, and one of the neighbors has it – it’s a strange disease, literally a mental illness, causing malaise, flulike symptoms and occasional hallucinations. Culkin’s mother is perpetually duct-taping his cuffs to keep the ticks out. The movie seems to suffer from it as well as the neighbor.
Culkin is in love with the Most Annoying Girl in the World, played by Emma Roberts. She’s the kind of girl who aggressively flirts with him and then laughs when he takes her seriously. He is deeply, painfully in love with her. The worst thing about this movie is that he ends up with her in the end. You want to shake him and talk some sense into his head.
But there are good things along the way, small though they may be. The brothers act well together, probably because they’re brothers. And there’s a truly great, deeply moving scene between Baldwin and the elder Culkin. They’re not enough to save the movie from its own malaise (or the deeply irritating Emma Roberts.)