January 25, 2005
thumbsucker buzz

I'm slammed with actual work today, and I know I have a bunch of demon movie stuff to catch up on, but here's a couple of Thumbsucker reviews for now. If anyone comes across any others, please leave the link in the comments.

UPDATE: Some good links from Tyler and Kaz in the comments plus this from JoBlo.com:

THUMBSUCKER is a solid little indie drama in the vein of TADPOLE and/or IGBY GOES DOWN. It stars newcomer Lou Pucci as an uncomfortable high-schooler who finds comfort in the simple act of thumbsucking. Several well-meaning adults try to help Justin quit the "childish" habit, resulting in a string of oddball divergences. Justin gets hypnotized by his new-age dentist (Keanu Reeves), earns a spot on the school debate team thanks to a kindhearted educator (Vince Vaughn), and even learns a few bizarre lessons from a drug-addicted TV star (Benjamin Bratt). Justin's parents (Tilda Swinton & Vincent D'Onofrio) chime in with their own advice, but clearly Mom and Pop have a few problems of their own. Based on the novel by Walter Kirn, this is a fitfully amusing and surprisingly insightful little indie dramedy, and one that should find a small-but-appreciative audience later this year.

cinema | from inside the mind of krix at January 25, 2005 12:22 PM .

Wow! that Dark Horizons review is great! I'm impressed you found these because I keep checking Hot Blog and Defamer and Movie City News and the other usual suspects and finding...nothing.

I hope I get a chance to see this someday...

Posted by: nudel on January 25, 2005 12:49 PM

OK, I spoke too soon. Here's the *only* word from David Poland in his "Sundance Day 6" column:

"Thumbsucker is looking like this year's Tadpole. The only difference is that the kid in this, Lou Pucci, will probably go on to some very good things. Just sayin'."

Whatever that means. I don't know if it's good or bad, or if Poland even saw Thumbsucker. He's spent most of the last 3 days talking about Hustle & Flow and The Devil & Daniel Johnson.


Posted by: nudel on January 25, 2005 12:57 PM


Sundance: Thumbs Up, but Not Sold Yet

So: It is not a foregone conclusion that Focus Features will buy Mike Mills' wonderful debut film, "Thumbsucker."

So said Mills to me last night when I ran into him and his agent at the big IFC Films party on Main Street in Park City.

"We've had a lot of interest, but people are afraid they don't know how to market it," he said.

"Thumbsucker," adapted from Walter Kirn's novel, is about a teenage boy who is so screwed up he's still sucking his thumb. This embarrasses the heck out of his parents, who finally try putting him on Ritalin after a diagnosis of attention-deficit disorder.

Alas, since he doesn't have ADD, the Ritalin acts as speed, which leads to a series of events that will change this young man's life.

"Thumbsucker" is funny, insightful, edgy and poignant. The performances are uniformly superb. If movies like "Garden State" and "Thirteen" found devoted audiences, then "Thumbsucker" is destined for cult status.

Accomplished actors Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Benjamin Bratt and Keanu Reeves (the last in a daffy comic turn that recalls his early pre-action films) all make "Thumbsucker" a joy to watch.

But 19-year-old Lou Taylor Pucci absolutely shines. He makes the movie as essential as "Rushmore," "Igby Goes Down," "Roger Dodger" or any of the other recent great coming-of-age films. Pucci is likely to be awarded many times next winter as the breakthrough star of 2005.

But first the movie needs a distributor. Miramax? Fox Searchlight? Let's hope one of these classy studios steps up to the plate. Soon.

Krix, cut and paste away!

Posted by: Tyler on January 25, 2005 01:59 PM

Thanks Tyler :)

Posted by: krix on January 25, 2005 02:02 PM

yikes -- this year's Donnie Darko?! can it really be that good? wheeeeee!!

Posted by: lori on January 25, 2005 03:02 PM

It will be screened in Berlin and I guess I know who will be going ;-)
Maybe it'll end up the way River's Edge did, be shown at festivals before it creeps back into the US via Europe.

Posted by: Niobe on January 25, 2005 03:16 PM

It will be screened in Berlin and I guess I know who will be going ;-)
Maybe it'll end up the way River's Edge did, be shown at festivals before it creeps back into the US via Europe.

Posted by: Niobe on January 25, 2005 03:16 PM

Sorry, when I had hit the post button, it asked me to supply name and mail, which I had already done before ;-(

Posted by: Niobe on January 25, 2005 03:18 PM

i was gonna stay for 1 more film but someone said that there is a snow coming...so im enroute to home again....love and kisses.

Posted by: wanda on January 25, 2005 04:24 PM

"More commonplace in its resolutely offbeat fashion is "Thumbsucker," Mike Mills' uneven adaptation of Walter Kirn's novel about a socially challenged kid with attention deficit disorder who finds empowerment in speed tablets. A willowy Lou Taylor Pucci inhabits the role of Justin Cobb, originally targeted for Elijah Wood, who outgrew the character during the protracted period of arranging financing.

First-timer Mills gets much of Kirn's loopy humor, but there is a flaccid energy about the film that induces a kind of sympathy ADD in the viewer. Among the swift ensemble (which includes Vincent D'Onofrio, Benjamin Bratt and Vince Vaughn), most appealing are a heartfelt Tilda Swinton as Justin's alert mother and Keanu Reeves as his psychobabbling orthodontist. Nailing every laugh line with quirky assurance, Reeves reminds us what a gas he could be in the good old days of Bill and Ted, before he Matrixed himself into a stupor."


Good that keanu is getting some much deserved kudo's!!

Posted by: kaz on January 25, 2005 04:37 PM

It appears to be a movie about how to cope with an addiction. I like how it is getting some really good buzz. I hope it gets picked up for distribution, anxious fans are waiting to see it ;-)

Posted by: lizzie on January 25, 2005 05:08 PM

"... in the good old days of Bill and Ted, before he Matrixed himself into a stupor."

As a devoted fan, am I allowed to laugh at that?
*ahem* *cough* Sorry.

*new fits of giggles*
It just struck me funny.

Posted by: Zen on January 25, 2005 05:48 PM

well i'm ok... and i m still here at sundance and found another source for computers.... it's all good oops! i mean it's OK!!
(nettie and i just met up for some thaifood at bangkok thai on main!)

i really havent' had a chance to organize wholistically my thoughts on t h e event in my first sundance trip which is the thumbsucker movie... i felt very drawn to the movie prior to actually seeing it and who am i and what am i doing here are two of the most important questions people qwest after... this film answers these with something akin to nonanswers... and that's OK!!

what we really see is a stellar cast portraying realistically and extendedly people much like ourselves who are every day pushing the envelope of who they are in sometimes quirkyandadorable and sometimes lifeisajourneyandnotarace kinda way... well there is your friendly neighborhood colorxeroxcopying ortho is MR REEVES raceridin' on his nishiki 12 speed...with that 6xy helmet and those... shorts on! again...just close yur astonsihed mouth wanda! and find yur power animal FAST! ))))
i think i just found my power animal!!!!!! ))

you have to see this unique perspective on life as focused through the contrasts of teenandadult perspective...
justin cobb(lou taylor pucci) is 17...and he is in "process" and the adults and peers around him are all facilitating his growth into his next step... it's really a coming of age for him... and those around him...

thumbsucker rawks as a contemporary film going experience for teens and adults alike... it's got soemthing for everyone...
and we have all

Posted by: wanda on January 25, 2005 06:35 PM

local buzz here is all about how great thumbsucker is... and i heard more than once how much reeves is like, loved and adored in this movie! i love h im!

Posted by: wanda on January 25, 2005 06:39 PM

onley 3 minutes left of computer time!
gues i will try for that film!!
we need the air!

Posted by: wanda on January 25, 2005 06:41 PM

I felt the same way Zen. Actually I was already laughing hysterically at "psychobabbling orthodontist". (I'm so hoping for an opportunity to see that!) But the review was meant as a compliment to Keanu and just to read a positive review about him makes me very happy for him! :-)

Posted by: Lisa on January 26, 2005 06:46 AM

Oh my! These reviews are so good. I just found another one:


Mike Goodridge in Park City 26 January 2005


Dir: Mike Mills. US. 2005. 94mins.

Music video and commercials director and graphic artist Mike Mills makes an impressive feature directorial debut with Thumbsucker, a short and sweet adaptation of the novel by Walter Kirn.

Of all the high school pictures at Sundance this year, this is by far the best, treating the teenager at its centre as an intelligent human rather than as caricature or stereotype. It is also the most understated, and its audience will be an adult one, not the kids it talks about.

Already selected for a competition slot at Berlin immediately after Sundance, Thumbsucker will be a criticsí darling, and Mills, who comes from the same school as Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola, has the potential to follow in their footsteps as a major young American voice.

Distributors will have to rely on critics and the stars in the supporting cast to market it; even with the presence of Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves and Vincent DíOnofrio in the cast, itís not as hip as it is thoughtful and melancholy. Mills, who also wrote the script, chooses not to hammer home the point in obvious MTV-style exposition, instead choosing moments and sparse dialogue to hint at their inner lives. Teen viewers used to Mean Girls and The OC will not get it.

The film focuses on 17-year-old Justin Cobb (a striking, intelligent breakthrough performance by Lou Pucci) who lives in a dreary Oregon town with his parents Audrey (Swinton) and Mike (DíOnofrio), she a nurse in her early 40s struggling with her own doubts and missed opportunities, he a man living with the disappointment of a broken college football career.

Struggling to find an identity of his own while his parents are so preoccupied, Justin gets spiritual guidance from his new age orthodontist (Reeves), but falls out with him when he realises that he has no answers and is just as busy searching for new philosophies himself.

He lusts after his school debating club team-mate Rebecca (Kelli Garner), but, like him, she is awash with insecurities and the two canít get it together.

He relies on props in his life Ė much to his fatherís annoyance, he still sucks his thumb, for example. Soon his debating coach (Vaughn) suggests he start taking Ritalin, the notorious drug which schools in the US encourage for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Before long, he is experimenting with weed with Rebecca. But none gives him the self-fulfilment or direction he believes he should possess.

Thumbsucker has no plot as such, winding gently through Justinís final year in high school. It touches on his motherís childish preoccupation with a soap star (Bratt), Justinís whirlwind success on the state debating circuit, sexual experimentation with Rebecca and his first heartbreak, and ultimately his own realisation that everyone harbours the same anxieties and flaws and that is ultimately what makes them interesting people.

Mills displays great maturity for a first-timer and while his restraint doesnít always produce lucid results, it does bode well for him in the future. He elicits fine performances from the entire cast, notably Reeves, who shines as the ever-evolving Perry.


Posted by: Ale on January 26, 2005 07:43 AM


Posted by: Tyler on January 26, 2005 08:51 AM
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