Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Monday, November 13, 2006


As we sat down to watch Thumbsucker, Wife said, "I think I'm going to be disappointed." This was another one of her picks, which generally are better than mine, it must be said. However, she had chosen it almost exclusively for the reason that it had an Elliott Smith soundtrack. To be honest, though, that's as good a reason as any, Elliott being quite so great a songwriter as he is.

Entirely gratuitous still of half-naked girls that has
very little to do with the movie's plot

The only things I knew about Thumbsucker in advance of watching it were:
1. The soundtrack thing previously mentioned;
2. That it had in the lead role the young lad who played the lead in Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia" video (a good reason for Camie to watch it); and
3. That I might feel a connection since I, too, was a thumbsucker up until about the age of 12.

So down we sat. Pressed play. Up come the opening titles. The cast list other than the young laddy (Lou Pucci) previously mentioned surprised us both: Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Keanu Reeeves, Benjamin Bratt, Vince Vaughan. To some extent, these are all actors who I have some respect for. Yes, even Keanu, who I think is a great comedic talent, even if he ain't all that as an actor actor.

The synopsis: This is a low-key, American, independent movie. It explores the interplay within a family, as well as that family's relationships with other people: girlfriends, school friends, teachers. It's a coming-of-age film of sorts, yes, but also a quirky tale of teenage life. And the story of a normal, not-entirely happy, not-entirely unhappy family. Really, the sort of environment that is familiar to all of us, I'd imagine.

The review: What can I say? Pucci is great in the lead role (even if I have doubts about how convincing he was as a thumbsucker); Keanu is a gem as the kid's idealistic orthodontist; and the supporting cast present some of their finest work, in my humble opinion. The only surprise here is that this is the first feature by the director, who handles the whole thing superbly.

The score: This is one of the best films I've seen in quite a while. Well worth 90 minutes of your time. I give it 75 out of 100.