Thumbsucker (2005)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  7 October 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 18,456 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 91 user | 114 critic | 33 from

Justin throws himself and everyone around him into chaos when he attempts to break free from his addiction to his thumb.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ted Beckman ...
Stoner Guy
Matt Schramm
Arvin V. Entena ...
Perry Lyman's Assistant
Tyler Gannon ...
Stoner Chick
Allen Go ...
Biology Teacher
Girl on Plane
Debate Judge
Kit Koenig ...
Sarah Lucht ...
English Teacher
Hotel Desk Clerk
Lanette Prazeau ...
School Nurse
Justin Cobb (as Lou Pucci)


Justin is a teenager boy, who has an oral obsession with his thumb. His mother seems to be a normal housekeeper, but she has her own obsessions as well, like a crush on a TV-star. The only person who's aware of Justin's problem is his father, manager in a store, but none of his advices seem to be working for Justin. The kid is signed up in a debate workshop, but the thing isn't going well, because he has his mind in a pretty classmate and, of course, in his thumb, affecting all the rest of his classes. So, Justin is a loner kid in the school, who prefers to lock himself in the bathroom and suck his thumb. Justin's dentist, a mystical-hippie person, will try to help to overcome his thumb problem, through the hypnosis. But the school's psychologist will diagnose Justin with the Attention Deficit Disorder, and will prescribe him some drugs. Suddenly, Justin's problem with his thumb will disappear, becoming an hyperactive genius, winning several debate contests and the admiration from his... Written by Alejandro Frias

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug/alcohol use and sexuality involving teens, language and a disturbing image | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 October 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Basparmak  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$85,327 (USA) (16 September 2005)


$1,325,073 (USA) (2 December 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton also co-star in Constantine (2005), which also came out in 2005. See more »


A microphone can be seen when Justin is bringing his prize back home. See more »


[first lines]
Audrey Cobb: You're good at stuff like this. I have to find something distinctive about myself.
Justin Cobb: You're beautiful, Audrey.
Audrey Cobb: Seriously.
See more »

Crazy Credits

technical consultants ... the nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center See more »


Referenced in Filmography: Keanu Reeves (2005) See more »


Written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell (as Christopher Bell)
Performed by Elliott Smith
From the film Lucky Three an Elliott Smith Portrait (1997) by Jem Cohen
Courtesy of Gravity Hill
See more »

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User Reviews

Well done is "Thumbsucker"
24 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First, I'd like to point out that "Thumbsucker" is an unusual title for any piece of work, whether it's this film, or the novel by Walter Kirn that it is based. First-time director Mike Mills guides a cast of well-knowns through a decent script that peers into one teenager's coming of age and his battle with an unusual addiction: he sucks his thumb.

Yes, Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) sucks his thumb. He's 17, in high school, trying to get into New York University, and sucks his thumb. His father Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio) clearly has issues with it while his mother Audrey (Tilda Swinton, also the film's producer) is a little more lenient (though she has the hots for T.V. actor Matt Schramm, played by Benjamin Bratt), and it just gives his younger brother Joel (Chase Offerle) greater incentive to insult him. Both parents like to be called by their first names as to not remind themselves of being old. If only more parents thought that way.

"Thumbsucker" isn't really a teen angst picture in the sense of something along the lines of "The Breakfast Club" (1985). No, it never really dives that deep, but it does contain some of those elements. The picture never looks beyond Justin's problematic habit that he just can't seem to shake as he rapidly approaches adulthood.

He sees his new-age hippie orthodontist Perry (Keanu Reeves), who suggests that Justin undergo hypnotherapy, and it works. A new leaf is turned over the for the young man as he joins the debate team and finds widespread success there, gets on the good side of his laid-back teacher Mr. Geary (Vince Vaughn) who also has some hair issues, and finds a little teen love with fellow classmate Rebecca (Kelli Garner).

But it's short-lived when Justin is also diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and is prescribed Ritalin(?) but goes cold turkey when he realizes he's addicted to it. After letting those go, Rebecca introduces him to the world of marijuana and borderline-kinky sex acts. But all of this leaves us and him wondering: Was there anything really wrong with him, since after all, thumb-sucking is unusual but in a world where there are many definitions of "normal," what is "normal?"

"Thumbsucker" is a pleasant and engaging comedy that guides us through the processes of definition of a perfect society. In essence really, Justin is the only down-to-earth character in the film, aside from his habit. I'm sure there are those of us with our own little pet-peeves that we don't let the world know about. I think that for Justin, who is played rather delicately and brightly by Lou Pucci, his habit brings him a sense of escape from his problems, much like an addiction.

But he falls right back into it when he has nothing left and all other options are exhausted. The movie's message is, I think, don't be afraid to be yourself, no matter how unusual your habits are. Don't get blinded by society's definition of normal and bizarre, and most importantly, just be yourself.


15 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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