Cast: Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Benjamin Bratt, Kelli Garner
Director: Mike Mills
Screenplay: Mike Mills (Novel by Walter Kirn)
Rated: M drug use, moderate coarse language, sexual references
Running Time: 96 Minutes
I'ts Not Easy Growing Up, No Matter What Age You Are.
Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) still sucks his thumb at 17. He believes that if he could just stop he would finally be happy and 'normal' The only thing that makes him quit is hypnosis administered by his orthodontist (Keanu Reeves). But without his thumb Justin feels more alienated than before and his real problems have just begun. He looks for guidance from his parents (Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio), his teacher (Vince Vaughn), his girlfriend (Kelli Garner) and even a TV star (Benjamin Bratt), but he learns that no one has an easy answer and that everyone is struggling to figure out their own lives.
Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) is a 17-year-old filled with teenage angst, typically searching for some answers to life and feeling like he is stumbling around in the dark and thinks that finding "the answer" will solve all his problems and hey, presto, he'll be normal. He still sucks his thumb, which causes grief for many who witness it, including his reserved and usually restrained father (Vincent D'Onofrio). Justin's alternative-styled orthodontist (Keanu Reeves) hypnotises Justin and cures him of his thumb sucking habit, but with the cure comes complications as Justin finds himself missing a part of himself and so seeks to find his identity.
Justin turns to different people in his life seeking some direction including his mother (Tilda Swinton), his debating club teacher (Vince Vaughn), his on-again, off-again girlfriend (Kelli Garner) and briefly from one of his mothers rehab patients, the TV star (Benjamin Bratt).
'Thumbsucker' is an often slow and meandering black comedy that sometimes struggles to find its direction. At its core are the relationships that the confused Justin Cobb has with the people in his life, but so often these people all seem just as troubled, which might mean Justin isn't troubled after all, just learning to join the club. When Justin quizzes his younger brother on why he doesn't appear to be affected by any form of anxiety, his brother sums this up with a classic line "While you're busy being messed up, I have to step up and be normal".
Lou Taylor (looking almost like a young Keanu Reeves) is fresh and engaging to maintain a steady credibility and create a typically anxious adolescent. Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio are so wonderfully controlled in their roles as Justin's trying-not-to-be uptight and tense parents, Vince Vaughn shows he can cut it with a straight role but it is Benjamin Bratt as the drug-addicted TV star in rehab whose brief appearance almost steals the show, along with tongue-in-cheek straight-faced Keanu Reeves as the constantly changing orthodontist who also manages to bring life and spontaneity to the story.
'Thumbsucker' is often lethargic with some scenes seeming to drag but it is the solution to Justin's problems that are just around the corner that keeps it going enough to sustain the narrative in this character driven study that continues to grow after its conclusion.
Rating : ***½