A less than auspicious homecoming for an introspective artist sets the stage for this low-key comedy drama directed by Steve Buscemi. Jim (Casey Affleck) is a chronically glum aspiring novelist who, after a failed two-year sojourn in New York City, has returned home to his parents' home in Goshen, IN. Jim's folks, Don (Seymour Cassel) and Sally (Mary Kay Place), run a ladder factory, a family business Jim wants nothing to do with. His older brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), is also living at home, and has problems of his own after his marriage ended in divorce and his business went broke. When Tim makes the latest of a number of suicide attempts by driving into a tree, Jim is reintroduced to Anika (Liv Tyler), a nurse who had a one-night fling with Jim a while ago. Jim and Anika strike up a conversation and start seeing one another again, though she seems to have feelings for Tim as well. With Tim in the hospital, Jim is persuaded against his better judgment to take on some of his brother's responsibilities, including doing some work at the ladder factory. At work, he bonds with his uncle Stacy (Mark Boone Jr.), who prefers to use the nickname "Evil" and deals drugs on the job. Jim's attempts to help Uncle Stacy with his side business backfire and implicate his parents, with Sally ending up in jail. But between his budding relationship with Anika and coaching a kids' basketball team that includes Tim's daughters, Jim begins to cautiously consider the notion that life might be worth all the trouble.
by Mark Deming synopsis