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The Chumscrubber (R)

Release Date: August 25th, 2005 by Newmarket Films
The Cast: Jamie Belle, Camilla Belle, Justin Chatwin, Rory Culkin, Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janney, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lauren Holly, Rita Wilson, William Fitchner and John Heard.
Directed by Arie Posin.

BASIC PREMISE: Dean (Jamie Belle) becomes troubled after he witnesses the suicide of Troy, his best friend. Other people in this suburban town also struggle with their own problems.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: It is difficult to classify this bizarre film in one particular genre. At times, it is a comedy and at other times it is a tragedy or a drama. There are even some elements of fantasy. It is interesting that each character has his or her own problems. Michael (Fiennes) suffers from delusions while he runs for mayor and is about to marry a beautiful woman (Wilson). There is a strange yet comical scene when he paints dolphins all over the walls of his house on the day of wedding. In another subplot, a bully (Chatwin) tries to kidnap Dean's younger brother but ends up kidnapping the wrong child. His motive is to steal Troy's secret stash of drugs--and Dean knows where it is. There is one particular hilarious scene when marijuana gets mixed up in food during a party for grown-ups. After a hilarious scene, there is always a serious one. Dean is the only truly likeable character besides his potential love interest (Camilla Belle) who has a good heart despite that she is mixed up with the wrong crowd. The last quarter of the film turns even more tragic and even a little violent. The acting is decent with no stand-out performances, especially because no actor or actress spends too much time onscreen. The main achievements includes the plot, which is always fresh, as well as the well-written script which brings out the life of each troubled suburban character--young or old. Flawed characters are not always interesting watch, but with enough style and inventiveness like in this movie, it makes for a very exciting and refreshingly unpredictable experience. The final scene alone justifies just how quirky and bizarre this film is.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are many scenes that are hard to be taken seriously because they are simply too far-fetched and off-beat. However, ultimately, this is a social satire which implies that real world suburbia is more screwed up than one would expect. This is certainly a cynical and pessimistic argument, but the real question is whether or not this movie does a good job of convincing this argument. It is convincing in showing that the problems but it never really goes to the root. Perhaps that is something good, otherwise there would be too much preaching. There are a few clichés, such as the parents who are oblivious to their children's real problems. Is it because they are just too busy to notice? Or are they too self-centered? Or perhaps it implies that the gap between the older and younger generations is getting wider and wider. This film does not provide a clear answer, but at least it makes you think about it and, perhaps, even apply it to your life.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A very original, surprising, darkly funny, and deeply affecting social satire with a terrific cast. It is destined to be a cult-classic along the lines of Donnie Darko!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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