Profane and often hilarious, this indie comedy's streak of surprising sweetness -- and Jackson's contentious yet supportive relationships with his family and friends -- make for feel-good laughs. Jackson is something of a caricature, whom we're invited to laugh at as Tijuana Jackson begins: He's righteous, he talks a lot, he's overly sure of himself, and he buttonholes everyone around him to give advice in his role as a fledgling motivational speaker. The thing is, he's actually pretty good at the advice game. Among random anecdotes about prison life and lines about striving and doing your best, he occasionally sums up people's problems in a way that's devastatingly succinct.
The appealing thing about Jackson is that he can see a brighter future for himself and everyone he loves, even if right now he's sleeping in a car and providing impromptu therapy for strangers he meets down at the beach. No one thinks he can succeed at, well, anything, but, by the sheer force of his will and charm, he's actually getting somewhere. His family is so fed up with him when he gets out of prison that they don't even bother to pick him up. But slowly, lovingly, he worms his way back into their good graces. It's not a scheme: Jackson actually cares about his family. He tenderly rubs his mom's gnarled arthritic feet and empties her bed pan; he takes Lil Eric with him everywhere, filling the air between them with unasked-for advice, even as he provides solid role model service just by being there and caring. Despite his many flaws, Tijuana Jackson is a man going places, and you'll want to go with him.