THE CHUMSCRUBBER

I absolutely hated this movie.  You'd think that a movie with a name this ludicrous would at least be good enough to make up for it, but The Chumscrubber is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time.  The over the top tale about kids abusing prescription drugs could have been a gritty hard hitting flick, but it plays out like corny never-aired ABC After School Special. 

Jamie Bell plays Dean Stiffle, an emotionally disconnected boy who discovers his best friend hanging by the neck and doesn't tell anyone about it.  His father ends up giving him drugs to deal with his depression.  Some laughably skinny bullies from his high school want him to get some pills out of his dead friend's room, so they kidnap his brother to force him into complying, but it's really not his brother because they grab the wrong kid, and lots of people play a videogame called The Chumscrubber that has a guy who carries his head around, and somehow that's supposed to be ironic or symbolize something that I'm apparently too dumb to connect together.

The cast is outstanding with Glen Close, Rita Wilson, Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janney, Carrie-Ann Moss, and John Heard, but never has such a brilliant bunch of actors been wasted on such garbage.  The film's writer and director, Arie Posin, tries to hammer home the fact that drugs are bad by giving every single character a crazy addiction or affliction, making the film a giant freakshow of miserable people.  Of course there's nothing intriguing or meaningful about anything they say or do.  The whole thing plays like some preachy film project from a mother who's kid died from an overdose.

I shook my head and groaned during most of the movie that meandered all over the place and seemed to have a tough time deciding whether you wanted to feel sorry, or just laugh at all the screwed up characters.  It's like a giant potluck of crappy food in which you're forced to eat seconds.

The other problem is that the film can't seem to decide if it should be serious or funny.  It doesn't work as a hardcore reality film, so it pulls off goofy scenes to lighten the mood that make the whole film just seem silly.  Near the film's end, there's a rare effective moment when someone's getting injured and tortured.  It was fairly gripping and uncomfortable to watch, but the film segues to a humorously violent scene that seemed like it was ripped from a Monty Python film that had much of the audience laughing.

The Chumscrubber is a loathsome empty movie that ends up being a headshakingly bad movie going experience.  The film's producer, Lawrence Bender, was standing behind me during a particularly cheezy monologue at the film's end and was telling someone, "Man...this sure is a powerful scene!"  I wish I could find some of the crazy pills that would let me see this film in that way.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

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