A smart, quirky film that doesn't always hit the mark but comes close most of the time, "Thumbsucker" is about a depressed teenager who lives in suburbia hell and tends to spend most of his time on prescribed medicine. He also sucks his thumb.
I am in clean-up mode today as I'm attacking movies I failed to write reviews for when I first watched the film. In the case of "Thumbsucker," I probably watched the movie two months ago, and so I don't remember everything - but I remember enough.
"Thumbsucker" features a good cast consisting of Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn and Benjamin Bratt, but the lead character and most props go to Lou Taylor Pucci, who plays thumb-sucking Justin Cobb. Cobb stands his own against his co-stars, and in turn delivers a "Donnie Darko" kind of performance, though the intensity level isn't quite up to Jake Gyllenhaal levels.
The movie itself, directed by Mike Mills, also seems like "Donnie Darko" at times as it takes a look at the underlying problems with suburban life and the means people go to when trying to cover up their secrets. The movie isn't sci-fi at all, but the dark quirkiness of the characters and setting certainly imply that Mills was shooting for the next "Darko" hit.
"Thumbsucker" doesn't always work and is probably not a film that I will ever watch again, but is still an impressive indie hit (if it can be considered an indie). Fine acting, a good plot and a well-written screenplay make "Thumbsucker" one of the hidden gems of the year.
The movie is neither a drama or a comedy, but instead something in between. "Dramedy" I guess is the word, but its subtle quirkiness definitely leans toward comedy. The point of movies like this is that all of our lives are messed up to some extreme or another, and that we just have to take it in stride, accept it and even laugh at it.
Keanu Reeves also delivers a fine performance as a hippy dentist who also knows how to hypnotize people.
"Thumbsucker," while not perfect, is one of those rare movies that carefully balances between drama and comedy just right. This one is recommended for anyone who likes their comedy about as subtle as it comes.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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