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ChumscrubberThe Chumscrubber

Starring: Jamie Bell, Glenn Close, William Fichtner, Allison Janney, Ralph Fiennes, Rita Wilson, Justin Chatwin, Camilla Belle, John Heard, Josh Janowiwicz, Carrie-Anne Moss and Lou Taylor Pucci
Directed by: Ari Posin

 

 

Bluntly speaking? The Chumscrubber is an American Beauty-like visceral tale of the under belly of the SUV-Satellite dish - label wearing - primetime snorting suburban mythology of the American Dream; even pretty shiny silver teapots are terribly tannic stained within. The film has a cast that'll make you squeal with thespian loving delight, and several interesting comingling stories running at warp speed at one time - like life.

Story goes…Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell), an introverted everywhere suburb kid, has discovered his close friend - dead - from apparent suicide. He walks out of the teen's room into a soiree of the smiling pseudo-happy adults that populate his little maze of cookie-utter houses. He says nothing.

Odd.

Yes.

The people at his party are not evil, they just have years on their kids and have a different look at life - they are ready for the more mundane - safe no surprises - life. Their kids are not.

The death sprouts up some inner-teen trouble that Dean will have to navigate through alone. He tries to enlist the help of his parents (Allison Janney and William Fichtner), but they are too involved in their own lives to actually notice his.

Soon, this secret world of 'Lord of the Flies'-ish teens erupts into a hostage situation (very realistically). The bad kids at Dean's school (Justin Chatwin, Camilla Belle and Lou Taylor Pucci) step way over the edge in trying to retrieve something their deceased friend was dealing with them…

The stomach starts to churn about here.

The Chumscrubber is another of those wonderful honest and telling looks at what goes on behind closed doors in bedroom communities. It's surprisingly original despite itself. The Chumbscrubber does have a few bulbous blemishes a-burst on Prom night though. For example the film's namesake, "The Chumscrubber," is a video game character that seems forced, nay, wedged into a few scenes to give us some metaphor for something. Then the end goes all Spielberg on us ala the sting of A.I.; that tad too long nailing the point, allowing the end to go on-and-on - and again with a whole weird ill-placed ode to the creepy ambiguous yarn of the Chumscrubber character dealy.

But the meat of the film is prime; performances are rich and juicy - and the reason to see the film really. William Fichtner, as Dr. Bill Stiffle, is an obliviously driven Dr. Phil without the heart smiling dad from hell - bravo.

Ralph Fiennes, as Mayor Michael Ebbs, shows up as a bizarre "enlightened" sort wading in the horizon (really just a pre-art clique martini-balancing city dweller presently trapped among the suburbanites). Fiennes is grand at that whole " insane in a flash" style of character…

Rita Wilson, as Terri Bratley of Terri Bratley Designs, is a bitch on wheels as the valedictorian of Social Climber School; be frightened be very frightened - "she" IS out there.

Glenn Close, as Mrs. Johnson (so invisible she has no first name…), hands in another of those wildly unsettling roles Glenn dishes so grandly. Alison Janney - well, need I really say more? Has she ever not delivered magic within the frames?

Of note - aside from the pristine adult, and established do-gooders - is Jamie Bell. He rides through the town's crests of indifference and keeps the audience following the flow of the often oh-so-trendy 'Desperate Housewives' leaning film, that thanks in no short part to the talents involved above and listed in the cast list, make this film important.

Writer Zac Stanford and director Arie Posin nailed the parallel worlds of the young vs. the elder clansman…just wish they'd have reworked the video excerps, and of course the subject matter has been done to death, still the actors excel…Enjoy.

Snack recommendation: HomeTown Buffet (I kid, I'm a kidder…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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