'The Search for One-Eye Jimmy' seems to have all the hallmarks of an over-the-top experimental film. The movie has plenty of cameos from the who's who of Hollywood, whose appearances come across like skits instead of a pieced together narrative. That's what the whole movie feels like really. A bunch of 'SNL' skits, with outrageous characters, strung together around a loose plot about a missing guy named One-Eye Jimmy.
'The Search for One-Eye Jimmy' was written and directed by Sam Henry Kass, who also had a couple 'Seinfeld' writing credits. The premise centers around Les (Holt McCallany), a would-be film student who is making a movie about the Brooklyn neighborhood he grew up in before he heads off to film school. The neighborhood is full of a number of eccentric characters who each get a chance to show off their own brand of crazy for the camera. Apparently neighborhood screw up One-Eye Jimmy (Sam Rockwell) has gone missing, and suddenly characters from around the neighborhood want to find him. Les turns his documentary toward the search hoping to uncover the mystery behind Jimmy's disappearance.
We first meet Joe Head (Michael Badalucco) who is aptly named because of his large noggin. Everyone in the neighborhood has a nickname. Joe Head is introduced as the neighborhood virgin. It's easy to see why that's his identifier since he wears sweat pants everywhere and doesn't seem to bother much with personal hygiene. The neighborhood thief is Junior (Nicholas Turturro) who steals just about anything he can get his hands on; even if it belongs to the people he calls his friends. Joe Head and Junior are Les' main pals, who guide him through the wacky world that is their neighborhood.
Jimmy's family is distraught, well his mother is. The rest of his family doesn't seem to care where Jimmy's gone. His father simply sits in a recliner in the living room with his junk hanging out while Jimmy's brother Ed (Steve Buscemi) tries to make money by selling pictures of people with a cutout of a pro wrestler. Other notable nutcases in the neighborhood include Col. Ron (Samuel L. Jackson), who is a homeless man who fishes for shoes down by the docks. Disco Bean (John Turturro) who just happens to be a neighborhood dancing legend who hasn't gotten the memo that disco is dead. And Snake (Tony Sirico) the neighborhood loan shark who used to be called The Whale until he lost 200 pounds and now wants to be known as Snake.
Joe Head, Junior and Les follow up leads on where Jimmy might be all the while interviewing the crazy individuals that populate the neighborhood. There really isn't much more to the movie than that. The comedy is very dead-pan, and the key here is that none of the characters believe they are doing anything funny. They're simply stuck in some sort of bizarre world where their actions are actually considered normal, which is why the movie is funny in the first place.
If you're up for a weird, experimental film then this is the movie for you. It does feel like a lot of little skits spliced together, with some playing better than others, but the movie does provide for a few dry laughs. It's a quirky, odd experience. I never knew this movie existed until now. I'll probably never watch it again, but I'm glad I watched it all the same.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Kino Lorber release. It comes packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The movie has been pressed on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It's a Region A release.
Shot in 1993, 'The Search for One-Eye Jimmy' looks more like it was shot in the 70s. It's an extremely soft looking video presentation with dirt, grime and specks galore. I haven't seen the DVD, but I wouldn't be surprised if this Blu-ray is simply a marginal upgrade from those standard definition visuals.
At no point does the movie ever come close to replicating fine detail. Instead it's awash with soft, muddled visuals which are hampered by very thick, distracting grain. Blacks constantly crush any sort of detail that might be had. Facial features are a soft, hazy mess. Edges are soft and indistinct. Light bleeds into objects and faces. There's nothing that stands out here. Nothing that makes you think you're watching something in high definition.
The source material needed a major clean-up before this release. Scratches, spots, and film judder are all present throughout the film. Contrast is anemic. Detail is an afterthought.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix seems just as limited as its video counterpart. Mostly because the movie was filmed on a very limited budget. Dialogue is tinny and sometimes whispers get lost in the fray. Music and sound effects sound hollow and unresolved. I did catch a few synching issues where the sound doesn't match up with the character's lips.
Like the video presentation, even though we're told we're listening to a lossless audio mix there's nothing here that wows. Nothing here that makes us sit up and say, "Yes, that does sound like a lossless mix." Most of the blame can be laid at the feet of the on-the-cheap shoot, but one has to wonder what a film like this is doing on the format anyway. I just don't see a noticeable upgrade from similar standard definition presentations.
The movie has its moments. There are some funny one-liners and the oddball characters really go far in selling the outrageous premise of the movie. Without the impressive lineup of well-known stars this movie would've floundered though. It takes skilled actors to pull off this kind of nonsense. With extremely underwhelming audio and video I'd say that this is best left to people who are searching this one out. Maybe give it a rent to see if it strikes your fancy.