April 17, 2008 -- It all started when Jim Killeen Googled himself. He found out there are at least 24 other Jim Killeens in the world. He wondered what they were like. Did they have much in common? What is in a name, anyway? Killeen, who lives in Los Angeles, had long been interested in the movie business (he had bit parts in several films, including “The Sex Monster”), so he decided to make a film about tracking down and interviewing to his namesakes. The idea was pretty simple. Each person on his list had to go by the name Jim Killeen, not James or J. He would travel to where each Jim Killeen lives and do something they like to do. He would ask each of them the same 30 questions. He would also get a DNA sample, to see if any of them are related to him. Killeen also interviewed a number of other random people who had Googled themselves. He even talked to some people at Google about different uses of their search engine.
So what did he find out through this exercise? He found out what any good reporter knows: everybody has a story. Randomly pick out a name from a phone book. No matter who they are, they've got a story. You might have to do some digging, but they've got one. Another thing he found out is that people are basically good. If you can get past their fear, most people will treat you well. Killeen was invited into people's homes, given a place to stay and something to eat. It didn't matter what country he was in. He was treated like family. In some cases, he was.
Killeen's first trip was to Cobh, Ireland, to meet Father Jim Killeen, the genial, longtime priest of a small parish. Killeen said the family name (originally O'Killeen) went back at least a thousand years in County Galway. Killeen found out later there are at least five family lineages of Killeens in Ireland. Killeen later visited a traffic engineer in Edinburgh, Scotland, the CEO of a community health center in Melbourne, Australia, a swinging single in Denver, a retired cop in New York City and a company executive father of eight in St. Louis, Mo., all named Jim Killeen. He wasn't done with them yet. He flew them all to Killeen, Texas, which was celebrating its 125th anniversary. The six Jim Killeens went to the local rodeo and participated as a group in the local chilli cook off. They seemed to be having a good time. It was there, that the results of the DNA test were announced.
The movie has plenty of memorable moments: Father Jim Killeen singing a sad Irish song in a Cobh pub, Jim Killeen the cop, talking about some famous cases he'd investigated, a large deadly arson fire and his work for the film industry tracking down distributors of illegal copies of movies, Jim Killeen, the traffic engineer, trying to talk the moviemaker Jim Killeen through a complex multi-lane rotary intersection (the most dangerous stunt in the film), the Jim Killeen from Denver and his social club friends explaining the swinging singles scene (a lot of friendly group groping in a very dark room, which Father Killeen sternly disapproved of when he heard about it), the disaster which ruined Jim Killeen's house in St. Louis. The physical resemblance between the L.A. Jim Killeen and the Scotland Jim Killeen was uncanny. They could have been brothers.
The movie moves along nicely, thanks to some sharp editing, some snappy graphics and animations, and some humorous asides, like the high-speed disclaimer about the taste of Vegemite (mentioned in a song, “Down Under” by Men at Work), a peculiar Australian food. This is no rough home movie project. It is self-financed, but put together slickly by a professional team, edited by Sean McGowan and shot by Jeff Murphy, scored by Geoff Levin, with songs by the Allman Brothers, Cat Stevens, Pindrosity and Cydney Robinson.
Besides Jim Killeen, producer Jeannie Roshar also appears frequently in the film. Killeen's own family is interviewed for the film and his mother accompanies the group to the meeting in Killeen, Texas. Killeen talks frankly about the mental illness in his family and about the recent death of his father. There are some funny outtakes among the credits. There are some missed opportunities, such as not doing more with the opportunity to explore the Killeen name in Ireland, and no follow up on one Jim Killeen who died after getting involved in a religious cult. For more information on this film, including DVD sales, see the film's website at googlemethemovie. This film rates a B.
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