Review by Nathan Samdahl (B-)
John C. Reilly is filling a unique niche genre right now: two films in two years where he plays a guy who attempts to understand an overweight youth. But Terri is no Cyrus. Despite the outward similarities of the two comedy-dramas, Reilly's performance and relationship here strike a much different note.
Terri is about an oversized teen misfit and his vice principal. When Terri starts showing up to school wearing only his pajamas - because they are just so damned comfortable - Reilly's character, Mr. Fitzgerald, takes notice and decides to take Terri under his wing. This starts an unlikely relationship between the two.
Given the film's synopsis, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Terri plays much darker than anticipated. The characters are funny, and yet they're also sad, each struggling to find meaning in their life.
Writer/Director Azazel Jacobs does a great job of crafting characters that don't always do the right thing, but always maintain some element of worth. Jacobs incorporates several other misfits into his story, such as Terri's crazy friend Chad, and Heather, one of the popular girls who is ostracized after getting caught in a sexual act at school.
Terri, played by newcomer Jacob Wysocki, is engaging as the lead. Despite his struggles to find a place in the world, he continuously musters a certain confidence and honesty that is attractive to others.
The supporting cast, such as Bridger Zadina and Olivia Crocicchia (the younger daughter in Rescue Me) - who play Chad and Heather respectively - is perfect as well. Creed Bratton (Creed from NBC's "The Office") is also endearing as Terri's father. John C. Reilly, spot-on as usual, shows the difference an established actor makes in a film like this. He elevates every scene he's in.
Terri is not perfect. There are some sequences that run a bit long, such as Terri, Chad and Heather's night of drinking. The film exists in a weird space where you want to laugh, but there isn't much to laugh at. At times, the film goes too dark, becoming a bit tonally confusing.
Had Jacobs attempted to commit Terri to a greater transformation, the story would have been more satisfying, but that was never his intention. Instead, Terri is a brief window into someone's life, someone who, like most of us, is on an ongoing journey to discover his place in the world.
Terri is not a big film - it won't be remembered 20 years from now - but it is well studied and feels fresh and different from other films dealing with similar issues.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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