But while the set-up rarely feels credible, the plot does engage. The drama starts when Dean visits his friend Troy, a drug dealer, while Troy’s mother (Glenn Close) is throwing a party. Dean finds Troy hanged and leaves without telling anyone. The seeds are sown for parental panic about Dean’s mental state and a kidnap plot that drives the action forward. A group of Dean’s classmates scheme to nab his little brother in order to blackmail him for Troy’s stash; they grab the wrong boy, and a farcical spiral of comical misadventures ensues.
Ironically, the boy’s parents don’t even notice he’s missing: his mother (Rita Wilson) is too busy getting ready to marry the town mayor (Ralph Fiennes). Thus the narrative is underpinned by a deeply cynical vision of parental neglect, superficiality and selfishness, never softened by a figure of hope. While it’s too extreme to convince, it’s not arch enough to work as satire. ‘The Chumbscrubber’ is much like its characters: decorative, entertaining and emotionally empty.