The Chumscrubber

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Jamie Bell opts for another offbeat US indie, but this one feels strangely familiar. ‘American Beauty’, ‘Donnie Darko’, ‘Thumbsucker’, ‘Stepford Wives’ and others are instantly recalled in this self-conscious attempt to peel back the layers of the dark side of suburbia through the eyes of its disaffected teens. Dean (Bell) is a misfit whose distant parents think his problems can be solved by prescription drugs. His town has a surreal quality: glassy-eyed adults adopt a veneer of contentment lest the neighbours suspect anything is wrong. We’ve seen this town before, and we’ve seen it done better.

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.

By: Anna Smith



Release details

Release date:
Friday June 8 2007
108 mins

Cast and crew

Arie Posin
Zac Stanford
Jamie Bell
Carrie-Anne Moss
Lou Taylor Pucci
Ralph Fiennes
Josh Janowicz
Camilla Belle
Justin Chatwin
Glenn Close
John Heard
Allison Janney
William Fichtner
Rita Wilson
Thomas Curtis
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