You know the drill
I'm having some fun going to these indie type flicks. I guess it's the fact that they may end up surprising you.
In this movie, rather than focusing solely on the thumsucking habit of the main character the director paints a great picture of life in middle america. We've seen this sort of story in "American Beauty" but in this film instead of having issues with image and perception, the characters are actually striving to better themselves actually rather than superficially. The story revolves around the life of a loner 17-year-old, Justin Cobb, played aptly by Lou Pucci. Justin thinks his problems revolve around his habit of sucking his thumb in times of stress. His overprotective mother and father try te get him to stop, his nurse mother shows him compassion and understanding and his macho father tries to fear and guilt him out of it. He even lets his orthodontist hypnotize him to help him quit. The thumbsucking is dealt with relatively early in the film and it goes on to describe how his life and world change. The secondary characters in the film seem one dimensional to begin with but as the story unfolds more and more layers appear and everyone feels like a real person by the end.
Vincent D'Onofrio and Tilda Swinton do a great job as the concerned parents of Justin. They both start off being very simple characters but as Justin's life "normalizes", it is revealed that they have character beyond the Mom and Dad archetype. Keanu Reeves and Vince Vaughn also appear in the film as the orthodontist and the debating club coach, respectively. Keanu falls back into the strange loner character so he does an okay job with that. I was very pleased with Vaughn's character. It was unlike anything I have seen him do. He was quiet, nervous, insecure and serious, everything that a fast talking comedian shouldn't be.
The director, Mike Mills, used many different kinds of camera shots, framing and lighting to better show the moods without fail. The film was cleverly shot and the cuts were intuitive and nothing ever felt rushed or missing.
The soundtrack was another fine point to this movie. The majority of the music was performed by the Polyphonic Spree and they did an awesome job at highlighting the evolution of the characters and the progression of the mood.
The only problems that I had with the movie are fairly small. Justin's love interest in the movie has an abrupt character change without warning or explanation, which would be fine if she neve came up again in the movie but she plays a huge role in his life. Second, bringing in ADHD seems like a really tacked on way of introducing Ritalin and a drug addiction in the story. Finally, the "mom and dad" story line that gets developed extensively throughout the movie gets dropped at the end.
This film deserves an 8/10 or 4 star rating. The movie was great save a few mistakes made by a rookie director and screen writer. The subject material has been done and redone but the director makes it interesting. Pucci has a bright future ahead of him if continues to pick interesting films like this one. Some have mentionned that the title stinks but there's something that you can relate from thumbsucking to the awkwardness of being a teenager.