“Thumbsucker” stars Lou Taylor Pucci, Vincent D’Onofrio, Kellie Garner, Keanu Reeves and co-stars Vince Vaughn and Tilda Swinton. It’s written and directed by first-timer Mike Mill and was entered in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
Justin Cobb is a seventeen year old boy with a the habit of sucking his thumb, hence the name “Thumbsucker”. His mother, who is an ordinary wife with a crush on a TV star, doesn’t have much of a problem with Justin sucking his thumb, but his father scolds him for his childlike habit. His orthodontist (Keanu Reeves) knows about his horrible secret and resort to hypnosis. This works but his school insists that Justin is diagnosed with ADD and is put on medication.
The medication prescribed to him makes him more confident in himself and helps him win debate competitions. At first, this film seemed to be relishing the use of medication. Once you get passed the halfway point, you will soon realize that it’s not celebrating the use of drugs, but prohibiting it. The film starts off mediocre and starts to get really good, breaking through that wall of boredom after the twenty minute mark. I was actually expecting some humor added to the mix, but truthfully this is a full-on off-beat drama.
The performances are strong all around, although some stand out more than others. These include the breakthrough performance by Lou Taylor Pucci as the dysfunctional teen, Vince Vaughn in rare form as the debate teacher, and Keanu Reeves gives off a creepy vibe as the hippy-like orthodontist. It does have a slow pace that never picks up, which makes the film feel much longer than it actually is, creating a minor bore.
I did enjoy this film to some extent. The slow pace might induce a few yawns here and there, but the honest story should be enough to keep viewers interested. The film never completely climaxes, which is the one true glitch this film has. This quirky drama puts forth a strong effort and comes out with some flaws and minor quirks, but overall it has it’s heart in the right place.