The 2009 Newport Beach Film Festival opened their tenth festival in dramatic fashion with a screening of Derek Martini’s Lymelife on the big screen at the Edwards Big Newport 6 multiplex. This theater is a particular favorite of many local residents because the 40-by-80-foot screen, touted as the biggest west of the Mississippi, and the 1,108-seat capacity make for a unique viewing experience.
After a few too many speeches from the likes of Newport Beach Mayor Edward D. Selich; founding sponsor, sports agent Leigh Steinberg; and honorary chairman director McG, who grew up in the area, welcoming everyone and imbuing the festival with much more importance on the circuit than it has attained so far, Lymelife producer Leonard Loventhal offered a few words about the project before the film began.
Set on Long Island in the late ‘70s, Martini’s coming-of-age story, which he co-wrote with his brother Steve, suffers from being a tad too familiar. It covers territory dealt with many times before, including some scenes reminiscent of other films, yet Martini offers no new insight. The characters, some of which come off more like caricatures, aren’t explored or examined, causing a lack of connection for the viewer.
Rory Culkin plays Scott Bartlett, a high-school kid who fancies his friend/next-door neighbor Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts). She is more into older guys, but there are temporary flashes of a returned interest on her part, but they don’t appear to last long. Scott also has to contend with a bully at school who bloodies his nose in their first encounter. What complicates matters in Scott’s life is his womanizing father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin), who is sleeping with Adrianna’s mother, Melissa (Cynthia Nixon playing a Long Islander like an improv comic who only knows New Yorkers from watching bad sitcoms). This is the final straw of abuse and embarrassment for Scott’s overprotective mother Brenda (Jill Hennessy). The story with these characters moves along in a predictable fashion as the days go by.