JUSTIN COBB STILL SUCKS HIS THUMB AT 17. HE BELIEVES THAT IF HE COULD JUST STOP HE WOULD FINALLY BE HAPPY & 'NORMAL'. THE ONLYTHING THAT MAKES HIM QUIT IS HYPNOSIS ADMINISTERED BY HIS ORTHODONTIST. BUT WITHOUT HIS THUMB JU... more »STIN FEELS MORE ALIENATED THAN BEFORE & HIS REAL PROBLEMS HAVE JUST BEGUN.« less
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
Well written film about isolationism in spite of being surrounded by others. The performances range from amazing(Swinton, Pucci) to laughable(Reeves, Vaughn). Appealing, yet also too quirky for it's own good.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jan H. (vladadog) from E FAIRFIELD, VT Reviewed on 1/27/2010...
I'm going to second what the other reviewer said - this is a very good "coming-of-age" movie with an outstanding cast. It's a pity this movie has been so overlooked because it is a real gem.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Love F. (momto5) from WINSLOW, ME Reviewed on 1/18/2009...
I thought this was a great coming of age movie. Good to know we all, no matter who we are have problems.It's just in how we deal with them. This is quite funnty at times and sad all at once. Good cast.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Quirky, Quiet Comedy About a Normal Teen
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 09/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Seventeen year old Justin (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a high school senior who still sucks his thumb. His father, Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio) seems more concerned about it than his mother, Audrey (Tilda Swinton). One day, Justin's dentist Perry (Keanu Reeves) talks to him about this habit, among other things, and Justin stops sucking his thumb becoming a chaotic individual who has to use Ritalin to calm down. The transformation is miraculous and he becomes a fantastic student and a brilliant member of the debate team headed by Mr. Geary (Vince Vaughn).
"Thumbsucker" written and directed by Mike Mills is a very good look at what life is like for a teenager and their parents.
Pucci won an award at Sundance for his performance. He does a very good job of portraying the low key teen and his character is fun to watch as he changes to the new Justin. One moment, he is a surly, confused teen who would prefer to sleep and then after he starts taking Ritalin, he becomes Super Student, always full of energy and raring to go. His performance is very natural and it is deserving of the award at Sundance. But I have to wonder how much of the `naturalness' comes from his age? Perhaps he simply hasn't had the time to become `an actor', to `emote'. But I don't think that gives him full credit. Even new actors generally take some time to find their place, appearing awkward and unnatural unless guided by a good director. I think the majority of us have all appeared in some sort of school play and know how it feels to be onstage in front of a bunch of staring eyes. Pucci appears to be naturally gifted and hopefully will continue to show this skill in many more films.
The supporting cast is filled with interesting and varied actors. Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio are great as Justin's parents. They seem in a state of constant shock that they actually have two children. At one point, Mike professes that he is afraid Justin is smarter than he is. Mike, a one promising athlete who got injured, is the manager of a sporting goods store. He may not like the job, but he gives it everything he has, because he has a family to support. Audrey (Swinton) is a nurse at a local hospital who has a major crush on actor Matt Schramm (Benjamin Bratt), the star of a television cop show. She asks for Justin's help with an essay to win a date with the actor. Both are strange, unusual and completely natural. They are supportive and loving of their children, but unsure of how to deal with them.
Keanu Reeves is humorous as Justin's New Age dentist, the man who sets him on the right path. Reeves is perfectly cast for the role, allowing his surfer dude dialect to complete the portrayal.
Vince Vaughn is also great as the Debate Club advisor. He seems thrilled to be along for the ride as Justin begins winning debates, taking their team to the state finals. Mr. Geary is a mellower version of the "Vince Vaughn" character he has played many times. At one point, he asks Justin to bring the girls on the debate team into the boy's bathroom, for a quick pep talk. Justin hesitates. Then Vaughn says "That's okay. I'm a teacher. I'm a teacher." It is a funny moment and very low key for Vaughn.
The best thing about the film is that everything seems very natural. Yes, Justin calls his mother and dad by their first names, but that seems to fit. Yes, some crazy stuff is going on in the family, but that works as well. The film portrays a sort of heightened naturalness which works and makes the film all the more enjoyable.
Writer/ Director Mills keeps the story moving at a good pace, holding our attention as Justin makes his journey through the story. At one point, early on, Justin announces that he would like to attend NYU. Mike snorts and then states that his grades aren't good enough. I get the feeling he is also reacting to the possibility he may have to pay thousands of dollars to help his son go to a college like NYU. After he becomes a super student, he decides to apply anyway and writes an essay about his family life. When he is accepted, he tells his shocked parents the good news. They aren't shocked because they don't believe in him, but shocked because they don't want their son to move that far away. After Audrey lets this news sink in a little, Justin approaches her to try to comfort her. She states "You're already gone." This scene is a nice example of the style of relationship Justin has with just about everyone in the film. The scenes ring true and the dialogue is very good.
"Thumbsucker" is a quirky, interesting, well-made film. If you are a huge fan of independent films, you should definitely see it. If you are normally used to louder, bigger budget films, you will probably have to adjust to the film. But go to a bargain matinee. "
Karen Loo. | Chicago, IL | 10/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After passing many a delightful colorful poster, I finally saw Mike Mills' coming of age story Thumbsucker. It's a bittersweet film, mixing comedy with somewhat melancholy overtones in an Igby Goes Down sort of way. We follow a 17-year-old Justin Cobb (Lou Taylor Pucci) who hides behind his bangs and sucks his thumb as a means of comfort. Distant from his perfectionist father and concerned about his mother's crush on a drug-addicted actor, he struggles to rid himself of his thumbsucking habit and be everything he's supposed to be. It's a nice little relatable film with the occasional surreal element, but I think what really made the film for me was Keanu Reeves' role as Perry Lyman, Justin's quasi-mystic orthodontist. I wiggled with glee every time he appeared on screen, as hearing Mr. Reeves guide a child in a dentist chair to find his power animal is pretty darn funny. Nothing he said would have been remarkable if he was played by anyone else. While his acting style has failed to change, he seemed a lot more relaxed than when he was Neo of the Matrix and it was all too perfect. So I'm going to throw aside the fact that Justin pushes and pushes and pushes himself through the debate team, experiments with drugs and sex, becomes hostile with friends and family as he strives to be a flawless human being, and ultimately learns a very profound truth, and say GO SEE IT BECAUSE KEANU REEVES PLAYZ A HIPPIE DENTIST LOL. "
4 1/2 stars - don't listen to these other reviewers
Kim Willner | Taipei, Taiwan | 11/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i have no idea what the other reviewers on here are talking about. First of all, this movie had some hilarious moments. Keanu Reeves as the hypnotist is a great and funny scene. This movie is somewhat formulaic in the way that a young boy who doesnt fit in overcomes his problems and fits in - but it all goes to his head. But the directing is beautiful and the acting is quite brilliant (even vince vaughn is pretty good). and don't listen to the guy who said that me and you and everyone we know is unoriginal. that movie was as good as thumbsucker if not better."
JR Pinto | New Jersey | 09/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Justin is a nice, but weird, kid who has the unseemly habit (as the title suggests) of chronically sucking his thumb. This is considered socially unacceptable behavior in a 17-year-old. What's his problem? What deep dark secret childhood trauma is causing him to do this? There must be one...right? Adults keep trying to intervene, but end up only making things worse. Finally, he is put on Ritalin, which works wonders. He becomes the genius star of the debate club. There's only one drawback; as his debate coach (Vince Vaughn) puts it: "In my professional opinion...you've become a monster."
Thumbsucker is one of those off-beat, coming-of-age movies...like Donnie Darko without the science fiction. It chronicles the horrors and the humor of being seventeen and different. The movie benefits from great performances. At its heart is newcomer Lou Pucci, who manages to be off-putting or cute as the film requires. He calls his parents by their first names. His mother (Tilda Swinton) fantasizes about running away with a movie star and his father (Vincent D'Onofrio) is a jock who lives in the shadow of a ruined football career and who doesn't know what to make of his son. Surprisingly, one of the best performances comes from Keanu Reeves, who almost plays a parody of himself; he is Justin's orthodontist, but he acts more like his psychiatrist.
This movie will probably develop a cult following over the years. It will certainly appeal to teenage outcasts and those of us who are recovering from being one. It is funny and quirky (if a bit long) and is a good independent alternative to the usual studio fare. "
Have you stopped sucking your thumb yet?
Michael Bolts | Superior, WI | 02/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lou Taylor Pucci (The Chumscrubber, Empire Falls) stars as Justin, a High School kid who still has the problem of thumbsucking. His father Mike, played by Vincent D'Onofrio (Law + Order: Criminal Intent, The 13th Floor) thinks its pathetic and his mother Audrey, played by the always mesmerizing Tilda Swinton (Constantine, Young Adam) seems to have this thing for TV show man Matt Schramm, played by Benjamin Bratt (Law + Order, Pinero). Pucci fears his parents are going to spilt and his Mom is going to leave his Dad for that Matt Schramm guy. Pucci finds help in Orthodondist Perry, played by (WHOA!) Keanu Reeves (The Matrix Trilogy, the upcoming A Scanner Darkly) and he hypnotizes Pucci. Pucci doesnt do well in school, he cant even argue a statement in debate glass held by Mr. Geary, the always spectacular Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, upcoming The Break Up). Pucci even has a girl he is in love with named Rebecca, played by Kelli Garner (Bully, London), who eventually turns into a dope user and doesnt love him. Meanwhile in the process of all of this Pucci is diagnosed with ADD which leads to prescription drugs to make him think which makes him the leader in the debate team...forced knowledge. It's good to have such a wonderful cast lined up in here and they are exceptional, in comedy and in the dramatic parts....a better movie then I expected."