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The Chumscrubber
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Chumscrubber More at IMDbPro »

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106 out of 143 people found the following review useful:

Totally unique and captivating

10/10
Author: (alee513) from United States
13 August 2005

Many people will hate this movie because it is so off the wall, but I didn't want it to end. It was full of surprises, interesting characters, strong emotions, and bizarre twists. I left the theater in a daze that lasted a couple of hours as "reality" intruded again. The cast is great and stars like Glenn Close and Ralph Fiennes show their talent by underplaying their roles or playing offbeat characters like they never have before. The director did a great job with continuity; the chumscrubber shows up early on before we even know who he is. There is a lot of humor amid the tragedy and it would probably take a second watching to catch it all. Probably the 15 to 25 crowd will like it the best, but I'm almost 60 and I loved it. Great job by the director and writer.

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112 out of 161 people found the following review useful:

A fresh, fun, and moving examination of crazy people (us) in suburbia.

10/10
Author: TheAscender from Provo, UT
27 January 2005

I was able to see a screening of this film at Sundance tonight (1/26/05) and I just wanted to let anyone who was curious about this movie that it is definitely worth seeing. Some lucky distributor is going to make bank off of this great film by a skilled director and soulful screenwriter.

Although I was pleasantly surprised as famous face after famous face came on the screen, Jamie Bell (main character Dean) is without equal. In the Q&A session after the screening, the Director talked a little about wanting to make a movie that examined the hypocrisy and muted subjects of our culture. I think he hit the nail right on the head. He also talked about how they removed all pop culture references in the movie so that they could create their own archetype of pop culture-- the Chumscrubber. The characteristics of this comic book/video game hero are an allegory that can help you decode the messages of the movie. (On a comic note, he also said that once you see this movie you will see dolphins EVERYWHERE. When you see it, you'll know what I mean.) Screenwriter Zak Stanford said that a Chubscrubber is the worst job in the fishing village he grew up in. It's the person that has to mop the floor clean after everyone else has gutted and processed the fish. This movie, in part, discussed "what it would be like to have someone do that for you."

There are parts of this movie that are definitely funny. However, I didn't find myself laughing at all them because I couldn't shake the feeling that I would have been laughing at myself. I guess I'm saying that for those of us who find themselves seeking escape in a world that finds us trivial, there is a lot of truth in this movie. But don't worry... it also shows us the power a single human connection can have.

SEE/BUY/DISCUSS/ANTICIPATE/DEVOUR THIS MOVIE!!

Ascender

P.S.- Don't be put off by trite descriptions of this film as a "tale of a young boy fending off the evils of suburbia." It really doesn't do it justice. It's fresh, fun, and moving.

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86 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

Not just another teen movie

8/10
Author: kamon32 from Grand Junction, United States
28 January 2005

I just saw this at Sundance, and I sincerely hope this film ends up with distributor and a good marketing campaign, because it is worthy of a wider audience. What was particularly interesting was listening to the director's comments after the film. He pointed out that his biggest challenge in working with this extremely talented ensemble cast was making sure everyone was on the same page in terms of mood. "It's not exactly a drama and it's not exactly a comedy," he said. "We didn't want them playing for laughs, although there are some comedic moments, obviously." Now, usually when movies can't figure out their tone, it's a kiss of death. But this film succeeded because of, not despite, it's delving into the gray area between drama and comedy. The result was a movie about teens that didn't play like a "teen movie," at all. It doesn't exploit and it doesn't play down to any sort of perceived teen audience. Part of that was due to the excellent cast. Jamie Bell was sensational. The adults were equally solid, particularly Glenn Close. I'm interested in seeing how this film is marketed. Some comments I've seen have been critical of the title, but it makes perfect sense once you know the story. All in all, this is one of those movies that obviously started with a great story — full of dramatic tension and social satire — and built from there. All too rare these days.

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43 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

The Oblivion of Suburbia: A Dark Comedy

9/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
14 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Few films have polarized audiences (fortunate enough to have experienced this little film) as much as THE CHUMSCRUBBER, a film that is unique in its brave depiction of American suburbia, a place where 'things' have absorbed our attention and 'people' have all but melted into the woodwork. It is a dark comedy, and even while it is very funny in parts, the humor is always attached to black vignettes that are so truthful they can become terrifying.

Taking place in some manufactured instant suburb in sunny California, the story (by director and co-writer Arie Posin with Zak Stanford) is framed around one Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell - think of the meaning of the word stifle!), a lad who seemingly is alone among the hollow shells of high school kids who live through drugs/pills to alter their perception of a boring meaningless world. The source of their pills is Troy Johnson (Josh Janowicz) who in the first frames of the movie is discovered by Dean after Troy has hanged himself in suicide. Dean, though terrified at the horror of what he discovers, decides to not tell anyone 'because who would care anyway'. Life just goes on among the parents of the teenagers, not allowing anything to disturb their shallow lives: Troy's mother (Glenn Close) appears oblivious to her loss; Dean's mother (Allison Janney) is more concerned with cooking and is clueless as to interpersonal relationships with anyone including her author/psychologist husband William Fichtner whose world begins and ends in his latest book; Terry Bratley (Rita Wilson) whose time is consumed by her incipient wedding to the mayor (Ralph Fiennes) who has delusional behavior while fending off maladaptive behavior by her recently divorced spouse Officer Lou (John Heard); Mrs. Falls (Carrie-Anne Moss) who seduces even teenagers and any other man who comes into her gaze. These shells of parents have no clue or communication with their aimless kids, but the kids when discovering the source of their pills is dead, decide to go after psycho Dean to get the stash. In doing so they kidnap Charley whom they think is Dean's brother to convince Dean to raid Troy's stash. The manner in which all of this plays out is a veritable horror story of the amoral mindset of teenagers coping alone in the world with parents who elect to remain oblivious to their plights.

There are some lapses in continuity with the story, some editing problems, and some weak moments, but the overall message is a very dark, very real microscopic examination of our society. Jamie Bell is particularly outstanding as Dean, the only character who appears to have a remnant of conscience and soul. But the cameos by the wide range of stars are splendid. James Horner has once again managed to gel the story with his musical score, ending the credits with a rendition of the Graham Nash song "Our House'. As said before, the audience is polarized between love and hate/tolerance for this film. This viewer happened to love it. Recommended for all people concerned with our youth today - and their inadequate parents. Grady Harp

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36 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly surprised.

8/10
Author: gonzo33332002 from United States
16 January 2006

I was caught off guard with this movie. I had heard great things about it and knew it was gonna be pretty good but I didn't expect it to actually deliver so well. All of the (young) cast are really great actors and am looking forward to more of their work. Glenn Close was good in it and so were most of the other adults. I've heard a lot of people compare this movie to Donnie Darko and I don't really get that. Although DD is a really good movie it's totally about two different things. I thought that Rory Culkin was underused and should have had at least one more scene in the movie. Billy (Justin Chatwin) who at first didn't seem really believable as the school bully(he seemed too pretty boy) ended growing on me and I actually started to have a strong dislike for the kid. Crystal (Camilla Belle) did a great job as well. Dean (Jamie Bell) has really gotten my interest too. He's a great actor and I look forward to whatever it is he does next. I highly recommend watching this movie and in fact have already told about 10 people about it.

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48 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Austin Movie Show review

10/10
Author: leilapostgrad from Austin, TX
6 August 2005

Suburbia pops up on the screen, one house at a time, and it's the most beautiful and peaceful neighborhood you've ever seen… until five minutes later when Dean (Jamie Bell) walks into a room and finds his best friend's dead body hanging by a rope. Chumscrubber writer/director Arie Posin's illustration of suburbia and alienation is as heart breaking as it is hilarious. Kids bury emotion under Prozac, Zantacs, Ritalin, and any other "happiness pills" they can find, while their parents drown their sorrows in one glass of wine after another. In this surreal depiction of life in the 'burbs, every individual is completely self-absorbed and numb to the outside world. A child is kidnapped and his parents never even realize it! So why did I laugh so much? Because every moment of Chumscrubber is either painfully shocking or absurdly hilarious. Posin has created a world where people are completely consumed with drugs, appearances, and "top-tier schools," and the brilliance of it is that he actually makes you want to go back and visit again. And the soundtrack (Placebo, Snow Patrol, The Like) kicks ass!!!

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58 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Very creative and quirky. May become a classic. Don't miss it.

10/10
Author: joanzsher from United States
28 July 2005

I was expecting not to relate well to this film, even though I wanted to like it as our son was the director of photography. I had heard that it was similar to American Beauty which I liked but I didn't need another film about dysfunctional middle and upper class families living in suburbia.I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw it on Tuesday night, July 26th in Portland at a screening. The script is incredibly creative and not at all like American Beauty. It is unfair to compare the two films. In addition, the acting, the directing, and of course, the cinematography are superb as is the music. There is humor to break the tension. The film, itself, keeps one wide awake and waiting to see what will happen to each of the characters. I was not at all disappointed and plan to see it again as I believe there are layers in this film that one will catch in repeated viewings. It is hard to tell anyone what this film is about as it doesn't fit any particular genre, but don't miss it as I think this is the kind of film that people will be talking about for a long time.

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28 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

I don't know about you, but I liked it.

9/10
Author: Linnea from United States
15 January 2006

I just watched this movie last night, and I can see this movie as being one you either really like, or you really hate. I personally found it very interesting, especially in the portrayal of suburbia being "perfect," but when you look closer everyone has just as many flaws as any other person. The performances are solid as well as the soundtrack, but sometimes the movie moves a little slow, but then again what movie doesn't? If you are not tired of the typical teen angst movie, then I suggest this movie. Although some people gave this a very bad review, I suggest you to just keep an open mind while watching it, you probably won't be disappointed. There are only a few flaws throughout the movie, and also it exaggerates parents not paying attention to their kids very much and has a few unbelievable moments, but some of it is just because of the satire. I really liked this movie and I hope you do too!

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A dark indie satire

8/10
Author: Juni78ukr (juni78ukr@yahoo.com) from Odessa, Ukraine
9 April 2006

There are two kinds of independent movies, those that belongs to the first one passes unnoticed for most moviegoers. They are playing mostly in art houses and patiently waiting for you in video stores. At the same time, movies from the second and much smaller group for some reason (which is hardly explainable sometimes) get all possible attention and sometimes they can replace mainstream production in theaters.

Chumscrubber, which obviously belongs to the first group, is a rather unique and courageous satirical attempt of showing on the surface quiet and peaceful life of suburbia and middle class people there. Welcome to Hillside, a town where all people know each other and at the same time, no one of them cares much about others. But, the unexpected event brings some changes to a monotonous life of the town.

Dean Stiffle's best friend Troy, a teenager who supplied drugs to a local high school commits a suicide and a company of school tough guys believe that Dean knows where to find Troy's store. After the school, they kidnap Dean's brother Charlie but they make mistake and take a wrong Charley, thirteen years old Charlie Bratley. It's not completely a kidnapping; for some of them it looks just like a funny game and even for Charlie himself, big boys and a pretty girl at least for the first time is a funny company and amusing experience he have never had before. Dean gets a threatening call but to his surprise and relief, he sees his brother playing video games in a neighboring room. He expectedly gives "I don't care" answer and mistake soon will be revealed. Day passes but no one from adults don't see what's going on. They are totally absorbed in planning their personal lives and making own careers and unable to see anything above that. The only subject for Dean's father is his books on psychology, which he is trying to use on his son while his mother is elsewhere trying to sell some herbal medicine. They don't see that the family is falling apart and then his brother Charlie found a way to escape reality in video games, Dean, who is one of very few relatively normal teenagers, become an outcast among his schoolmates and withdraw into himself. Troy's mother spends all the time telling her neighbors that she doesn't blame them for her son's death. Divorced Charlie Bratley's mother for a long time has been planning her wedding with city's major, who becomes obsessed with a strange visions and ideas. She doesn't even notice his son's disappearance and talking to him through a closed door. Billy who is the head of the company and its inspirer bring Charlie to his home but his parents also don't see anything special. "It's for school" is a perfect answer that assures everyone that everything is on its tracks and in order. Even a direct truth is taking as a joke. The children are completely left on their own and soon Dean realizes that nobody's noticed that a kid is not home for a long time and he's the only one who could do anything to resolve a conflict even if it is no concern of him.

The movie cast unites too many famous actors for a small budgeted indie movie. The adult actors always have good performances of their satirical characters, but they are mostly the background of the story, where the main stars are young actors and their characters. Jamie Bell (mainly known for his first role in Billy Elliot) who is playing the main young character is excellent and his ability of creating required accent deserves the highest praises. Justin Chatvin is strong enough as a company leader Billy and the youngest of characters, Thomas Curtis as Charley Bratley steal the show in a couple of crucial moments.

Such rather absurd satirized image of selfish behavior combined with blissful ignorance works pretty well with adult characters in the movie. This is satire that doesn't make you laugh watching the movie, its just make you think why such things could happen. Unfortunately, on the contrary, important young characters are underdeveloped and sometimes the movie doesn't give us a reasonable explanation for their acts and way of behavior. The story itself also has perceptible lapses and problem points, which don't let creating a complex image and evoke obvious questions. However, despite some problems with characters, continuity flaws and possible overusing of symbolism without a certain need, the director was able to make a mostly captivating picture that brought me to deep thoughts for a while. The main problem is that the movie and its intensive climax don't give any solution or escaping for the situation as well as it doesn't give the answer for above mentioned question why such Hillsides are possible. The Chumscrubber is a striking contrast to mainstream movies, a movie that obviously worth seeing and makes you think, but because of its perceptible flaws and partly narrow-minded approach, it's unable to reach complete success.

8 out of 10

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31 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Wow, a movie that gives teens their due!

10/10
Author: irianchick from Alberta, Canada
7 June 2006

This movie really impressed me by how realistically it treated teenagers and their capabilities. A lot of movies regard teens as immature or ignorant of "grown up" problems, but we aren't. Age doesn't dictate maturity or knowledge, it's just the amount of time you've lived on earth. Another thing that I really enjoyed was seeing parents' mistakes blown up instead. It's crazy to think about, but a lot of homes really are like that and I think it's horrible. The Chumscrubber was amazing in that it accented real problems with today's society openly, without buffers to appease the audience. The director had a message, and he said it, without reference to anyone else, or to how well the movie would do. I find that kind of honesty in a movie refreshing. Plus, the movie was brilliant anyways.

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