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The Jimmy Show (2001)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  16 January 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 467 users   Metascore: 39/100
Reviews: 21 user | 9 critic | 6 from

A failed New Jersey inventor embarks on a career as a standup comic, turns to drink, and labors to keep his family together.


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Credited cast:
Jimmy O'Brien
Jillian Stacom ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Track Coach
Jefferson Breland ...
Man in Club
Heather Bucha ...
Seth Buchwald ...
Frankie Dellarosa ...
Jersey Guy
George Demas ...
Man in Club
Big Tony
Mitchell Greenberg ...
Dr. Schull
Jersey Girl


Jimmy O'Brien works in the stockroom of a grocery store, where he is reminded of his powerlessness by his boss. Only his love for his wife offers him comfort, but their obligations to his invalid grandmother and a new baby stifle their dreams. It is not until open-mike night at the local comedy club that he allows himself to do what he needs to do: run off at the mouth. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 January 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El show de Jimmy  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$703 (USA) (13 December 2002)


$703 (USA) (13 December 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When his grandmother (Ruth) is in the chair dead, you can still see her breathing. See more »


Jimmy: Ice cream runs in my veins.
See more »


Featured in The 2004 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

"I've had a tough year"
28 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The biggest point of irony in Frank Whaley's The Jimmy Show is that, while the film concerns the ideas of a standup comic and his standup comedy routine, it is not funny or comedic in the least bit. In fact, it's one of the saddest films I've seen all year. It tells the story of Jimmy O'Brien (Whaley), who slogs at his redundant day job as a supermarket clerk, ripping the company off of its twenty-four packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon every single day and talking to his only friend, a stoner named Ray (Ethan Hawke). By night, Jimmy finds some sort of neurotic solace on stage at seamy comedy clubs, where he doesn't really tell jokes (well, attempts to but is met with not a single chuckle), but hold a therapeutic venting session for himself as the audience blankly stares or tunes him out. After watching him theoretically "bomb" a couple nights, we wonder why he keeps doing this. It isn't until we hear him tell Ray that he loves how people have to listen to him, whether they like it or not.

Right then and there, we get a sense of how lonely, desperate, and tired Jimmy really is. He's tired of not succeeding, job-hopping trying to find what he likes, but managing to find a way to screw it all up, whether it's stealing or simply not being cut out for the position. Jimmy lives with his wife Annie (Carla Gugino), whom he married right after he got her pregnant, and takes after his disabled grandmother, buying her her expensive medication and trying to make sure she sees another day. It doesn't take long for us to realize that Jimmy is sad and kind of a pathetic character, but even if some of his problems are brought-on himself and some of his actions aren't necessarily the right ones, especially if you're trying to build yourself a better life, it takes about fifteen minutes into the film before we start seriously feeling for the character and waiting for his break - like Jimmy himself is known to do.

Frank Whaley is tremendous as Jimmy, quiet, unassuming, but an incomparable knockout of a performer here, effectively conveying the many moods of his character through numerous different interactions with people or through his standup performances. Jimmy's standup performances are some of the most original things in the film, as they effortlessly structure and mold the character into a less-content and more quietly-disillusioned person than we could've ever imagined. His standup performances are occasionally interrupted by hecklers, to which Jimmy has no problem putting them on the spot in a unique and original way. Even though they may lead to him getting attacked on stage, at least he finds something resembling the power to defend himself spontaneously.

One of Jimmy's darkest insights is when, after Annie abruptly tells him she wants to part ways, he gets up on stage one evening and says, "One minute, you're falling in love over an ankle bracelet. And the next minute, you're dividing up the furniture. And in the middle of them two minutes, you make a baby, who's gotta learn it all by themselves." Piercing insight like that is what keeps the film afloat in a thematic sense, and blends fittingly with the film's great performances and slice-of-life focus.

The lengthy final scene in The Jimmy Show, set to a memorable and somber piano tune, makes for one of the most upsetting scenes in the film, regardless of how cliché it may seem. This is predominately because we see it happen in other films but, at the end of the day, there's still a chance for the main character. By then, we realize the character has not only run out of chances but has never really had one in the first place. "I've had a tough year," he says one night at a comedy club, but the audience, at this point, feels like heckling and saying, "you've had a tough life." For those who have a difficult time imagining what this film is like, imagine an episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm that isn't funny but deeply heartbreaking.

Starring: Frank Whaley, Carla Guigo, and Ethan Hawke. Directed by: Frank Whaley.

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