Jimmy is a high school kid who looks old enough to be a history teacher. With two parents respected by the community–okay, one philandering dad and an alcoholic mom with an addiction to awful hats–Jimmy seems to be on top of the world. He wins the school essay contest, meets a nice girl, and gets a steady job. What could possibly go awry with this budding American success story?
The compelling answer drives the narrative juggernaut that is I ACCUSE MY PARENTS. A C-level time-killer aimed squarely at the youth of its day (many moons ago), J’ACCUSE 2 is no classic. It’s not even a good-bad movie; the director is Sam Newfield of THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN. It’s a fun time for those who enjoy bad movies or good-bad movies, but it is even more valuable as a record of the acceptable ethics of its time.
Our boy Jimmy meets a blonde songstress, which is pretty good luck for a high school kid. Jimmy’s parents are the type who’d have let Jimmy choose his gender if that was a thing back then; Dad tosses cash at the boy-man instead of spending time with him, and Mom shows up at Jimmy’s moment of glory at school drunk. To maintain his new jet-set lifestyle, Jimmy goes to work for a criminal mastermind. Bad choices begin to multiply until Jimmy is involved in murder and must flee town and go live with a Jesus freak who runs a diner. But a high school kid on the run can only run so long, leading to the frame story from which the title comes.
I ACCUSE MY PARENTS shows a boy who goes to a fine all-white school, gets an honest job, dates a nice gal (flawed though she may be) and still tumbles under the influence of organized crime, booze and murder. After all that, the movie and our hero point the finger of blame directly at Mom and Dad. Its message as current as the latest stats on deadbeat dads, I ACCUSE is that rare American film that dares criticize the nuclear family. Its like is not seen again until GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? took on the imperfections of American parenting. The depiction of Jimmy as victim of ‘respectable’ citizens he happens to be related to is matched only by Timothy Hutton’s Oscar-nominated turn in ORDINARY PEOPLE. (If Jimmy’s parents divorced there’d be no pre-KRAMER VS. KRAMER battle, as Mom and Dad would fly the coop before they’d own up to their responsibilities.)
A terrible movie with a message for our time, I ACCUSE MY PARENTS is a classic equal to GLEN OR GLENDA in the long list of movies that are fascinating documents of their time, while being enjoyably bad.
In case you didn’t get my unsubtle hints, this movie is awful. But this cheap movie about social issues is fascinating to see in this era of empty superhero movies made for hundreds of millions.