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Gummo (1997)

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Lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town wander the deserted landscape trying to fulfill their boring, nihilistic lives.

Director:

Harmony Korine

Writer:

Harmony Korine
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2,782 ( 798)
4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacob Sewell ... Bunny Boy
Nick Sutton Nick Sutton ... Tummler
Lara Tosh Lara Tosh ... Girl in Car
Jacob Reynolds ... Solomon
Darby Dougherty Darby Dougherty ... Darby
Chloë Sevigny ... Dot (as Chloe Sevigny)
Carisa Glucksman Carisa Glucksman ... Helen
Jason Guzak Jason Guzak ... Skinhead #1
Casey Guzak Casey Guzak ... Skinhead #2
Wendall Carr Wendall Carr ... Huntz
James Lawhorn James Lawhorn ... Cowboy #1
James Glass James Glass ... Cowboy #2
Ellen M. Smith Ellen M. Smith ... Ellen
Charles Matthew Coatney Charles Matthew Coatney ... Eddie
Harmony Korine ... Boy on Couch
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Storyline

Constructing this film through random scenes, director Harmony Korine abruptly jettisoned any sort of narrative plot, so here we go: Solomon and Tummler are two bored teenage boys who live in Xenia, Ohio. A few years ago, a tornado swept through it, destroying more than half the town and killing the same amount, including Solomon's father. The film, from there, chronicles the anti-social adventures these two boys have. These include sniffing glue, killing cats, having sex, riding dirtbikes, listening to black metal, and meeting a cavalcade of quirky, bizarre, and scary people. These include a man who pimps his mentally ill wife to our anti-heroes, three sisters who play with their cat and practice becoming strippers, a black midget fending off the sexual advances of a troubled man (played by the director Harmony Korine), a 12-year-old gay transvestite who is also a cat killer, Solomon's mother who seems to be the only glimpse of sanity, two foul-mouthed six-year olds, and most ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From the creator of KIDS See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive depiction of anti-social behavior of juveniles,including violence, substance abuse,sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 November 1997 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Gummo See more »

Filming Locations:

Tennessee, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$116,799

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$116,799
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the screenplay, Bunny Boy talks, but only during the scene in the swimming pool. He also explains why he has the word MAC tattooed on his fingers: "My parents like to call me that. Mac spelled backward is Cam. Cam is their favorite car... Camaro." He also claims he was born with one fully grown tooth, and his parents "wanted to name me Plak." See more »

Goofs

During the arm wrestling scene, Tummler knocks the beer bottles on the ground to make room on the table. The camera then shifts angles and shows the beer bottles still on the table. When Tummler wins the arm wrestle, the bottles are, again, off the table. Throughout this scene and the next, the beer bottles disappear and reappear on the table. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Solomon: [voiceover] Xenia, Ohio. Xenia, Ohio. A few years ago, a tornado hit this place. It killed the people, left and right. Dogs died. Cats died. Houses were split open, and you could see necklaces hanging from branches of trees. People's legs and neck bones were sticking out. Oliver found a leg on his roof. A lot of people's fathers died, and were killed by the great tornado. I saw a girl fly through the sky, and I looked up her skirt. Her skull was smashed. And some kids died. My ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Spider-Man (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Dragonaut
Performed by Sleep
Written by Chris Hakius, Matt Pike & Al Cisneros
Courtesy of Earache Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It's so strange - life, not Gummo.
8 November 2003 | by sondracarrSee all my reviews

I have trouble with the comments of users who find no emotional attachment to sad characters. Those who state that all the characters in this film wouldn't be missed if a tornado did wipe them out - isn't this the ultimate prejudice? Isn't it telling that these people have no sympathy for characters that are children who've been given no other options? Could it be that the pervasiveness of this attitude is exactly why there seems to be no cure for the plight of poverty?

Could it possibly be that THIS is the point of this film?

So few want to get inside the real problems to understand what's going on. It is impossible to understand anything fully from the outside looking in. I think films (and books, and music, and lectures, etc.) like this are needed to counteract the fantasies that we regularly accept as reality. Is this reality for most people? No, probably not, but it is for some and all stories need telling. In a world-view where wrestling chairs and killing pets are considered acceptable and worthwhile activities, would we really expect to feel a sense of plot or unfolding or striving? The point, it seems to me, is that for people trapped in these situations, there is no point, no goals, no worthwhile transformations. They can't even begin to see these things. All that's left by this tragedy of human existence is meaningless, chaotic, confusing experiences that seem to make no sense, and ill-conceived rushes to relieve the frustration and anxiety in whatever means seem readily available. Do you understand why people cut themselves to feel better? Or starve themselves? Or abuse people? I don't. But for our culture's sake, I hope some people care enough to try to find out.

Tragedy, for anyone who has ever personally experienced it, leaves one without faith, hope, or any possibility of transcendence. Without these higher-level world-views, we revert to self-protective mere survival. When this strikes a larger community, it has disastrous effects. This film shows just how fragile our safety net of community, progress, and culture really are - how easily they can be unraveled.

I know it's hard for us to see this. How can these characters not see that there is a better way available? Don't they watch TV or movies? Don't they see what we see? But this is precisely the point we have to understand. They really don't. People who live in ghettos don't get degrees because they don't even know that they can. They believe that these areas are for others, not them. We'll never understand class problems if we don't try to see them from all perspectives.

I, too, felt horrified to find myself on the "inside" of this lifestyle - something I hope never to do in a non-filmic experience. This is the genius to which people are referring - the director and actors' ability to draw those of us for whom these are alien experiences directly and completely into this hopeless, pointless world. We actually feel the dread, frustration, meaninglessness that people caught in these circumstances experience.

This is why I read, go to movies, listen to music and experience all art - to experience life from the many different perspectives available. If you only want to be entertained - there really are only a few stories to tell and there are many "artists" out there willing to serve you the same McArt to "satisfy" your needs, but for those of us who would like to know more about something other than ourselves and our ethnocentric, narcissistic experiences, movies like Gummo will always be admired. And there's nothing wrong with entertainment. I like it too. But don't judge films like this based on that standard. It isn't fair. You don't say "I don't like Mozart because it doesn't have a beat I can dance to." Or maybe you do. And so, you should be able to understand how some people have no way to access another transcendent point of view.

I also have to make a comment about the "meaninglessness" of the bunny suit boy. I didn't understand the symbolism either - and according the director's comments, there doesn't seem to be any - at least not in any direct, conscious way. And this is probably difficult for any non-artist to understand, but sometimes instinct doesn't take on any direct symbolic reference but is still important. Artist's trust their instincts and don't always have to have everything make sense in a literal sense. In fact, it is generally agreed that works of art that are too directly symbolic, or too literal lose much of the magic that makes art special in the first place. I'm not condoning ambiguity for the sake of ambiguity, but the bunny suit seemed so absurdist to me that it set the tone for the absurdity that followed. In a strange way, it seemed hopeful. This effect isn't lessened by the director's inability to explain why it was important. The fact is, it was important on some instinctive level or it wouldn't have been cut in.

Listen to any of your favorite music and try to find a "plot" or a "meaning" for each and every line and note. Unless you listen exclusively to bad country and western I think you'll get this point. A lot of people think other forms of art have more responsibility to be crystal clear, but I doubt most of us prefer these same attributes in our music. If you understand half of what you sing along to, you are among the few. I think the problem is that most of us expect something different from film, art, novels because we've been fed so much crap that (similar to my kids when they come back from a week at a friend or family member's house where fast food is the daily fare) we cannot taste the goodness of real meals. Think about it.


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