The Chumscrubber
Director: Arie Posin
Writer: Arie Posin
Screenplay: Zac Stanford
Producers: Lawrence Bender, Bonnie Curtis
Starring: Jamie Bell, Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janney, Glen Close, William Fichtner, Carrie-Ann Moss
MPAA Rating:R
read my spoiler disclaimer

Certainly the oddest movie I've seen this year, "Chumscrubber" really sticks it in and breaks it off so to speak. I've been thinking about this movie all night and day and still can't decide if I liked it or not. I'm leaning towards not, but the performances are so strong and the plot is so devilishly simple but twisted, that I can't ignore the fact that it just might be great.

       It is the ultimate rip on suburbia. The quiet street in southern California in which every house has a white picket fence, where everyone knows each other and everyone is so polite. The dark little secret is that all of the adults are totally self-absorbed in their own life to notice that all of the kids are over-medicated (with prescriptions or otherwise) and neck deep in trouble. Think "American Beauty" to the Nth degree. I was kind of in a relaxed, edge of my seat mode. There was nothing terribly suspenseful happening, yet I just knew at any moment something bad, or even just awkward, was going to happen.

Look at Ralph Fiennes' face. Blissful, almost happy; after being bashed in the head. Typical of this movie
       In truth, I'm just not smart enough to explain the film accurately. There are several obvious messages in the film. Pay attention to your kids, have empathy for your neighbor and just relax and forget the pills; you don't need them. But I can't get much deeper than that without taking a course in philosophy or psychology. Without giving away storyline, it is impossible to explain the film in any specific detail. It is a surreal journey into suburbia where nothing like this would ever happen. Well, at least not all at the same time. So it is completely unbelievable, yet somehow convincing.

       Here are the problems: like I said, completely improbable. Several "Meet the Parents" moments, as I call them, where I just think to myself, "that wouldn't happen!" So I got a little frustrated at those times. Second, and maybe ties in a little with number three, is The Chumscrubber; a post-apocalyptic video game and TV show that all the kids are watching, that the director makes a very obvious note of. I didn't get the point or draw any parallels. So confused was I (because, like I said, I'm not smart enough) about the relevence or importance of The Chumscrubber, that it just threw me for a loop. Three, the story is too much. There are too many deep things going on and too many messages that are trying to be conveyed all at once, that he (Arie Posin - director/writer) loses the audience near the end. It's pacing can be a little uneven at times; but despite the rough edges, it all comes together in the final 15 or 20 minutes with a dramatic... kick in the ass?

       Strong point(s): the cast. The cast, the cast, the cast. Everyone is simply magnificent in this film. Probably not academy award worthy, but to pull off the disturbing series of unbelievable events and make it, as I said, convincing, you need a strong backbone. That backbone lies among the following: Glen Close, Rita Wilson, Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janey, Carrie-Ann Moss, William Fichtner, Camilla Belle, Rory Culkin, John Heard, Justin Chatwin and most notably, "Billy Elliot's" Jamie Bell. What else is there to say? Each one of these actors brings forth such a grotesque, inaccurate yet believable version of suburbanites, that although I'm offended that the filmmaker mixes me in with this same crowd of delinquents, I'm hooked on the personalities and blown away by their various and obvious quirks and traits.

       I've been kicking and screaming for originality this movie season. And I guess the moral is, be careful what you wish for, you just may get it. I guess I liked "The Chumscrubber" overall, and I may see more into it on a subsequent viewing, but for now, I'm skeptical. Although the characters are amazingly well acted, I feel like I've seen this before, only...not. It's the trendy cliche in Hollywood right now to satirize suburbia and instill in our brains that suburbanites are crazy, self-absorbed zombies just living their lives callously and materialistically. This film focusses on that, but does so in a new and surrealistic way. If what I've written here makes no sense to you, then you're not alone. It makes no sense to me either, which is what I liked, but also hated, about "The Chumscrubber" (a title which needs to be changed by the way if it wants to make any money at the box office).

Trailers, multi-media, showtimes, but most importantly, an overview of each of the characters at The Chumsrubber's official site
Think "American Beauty" meets "Donnie Darko"

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