The Chumscrubber (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/06/2007

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

The Chumscrubber is aiming for Donnie Darko-style coolness but it never really works, despite strong performances from a superb cast.

What's it all about?
Jamie Bell stars as Dean, a high school student in the Smalltown USA community of Hillside, who discovers that his drug dealing best friend Troy has hanged himself in his bedroom. As the news spreads, three of Dean's drug using classmates (Justin Chatwin, Lou Taylor Pucci and Camilla Belle) decide to kidnap Dean's younger brother Charlie (Rory Culkin) in order to force Dean to retrieve Troy's stash.

However, the plan goes wrong and the would-be kidnappers snatch the wrong boy (Thomas Curtis as Charlie Bratley), leaving Dean mystified at their claims to be holding his brother. To make matters worse, Charlie's own mother (Rita Wilson) doesn't even notice he's missing, because she's too busy planning her wedding to the scatterbrained mayor (Ralph Fiennes).

The Good
The performances are extremely good, particularly Jamie Bell, who nails the American accent and manages to keep Dean likeable despite the fact that his character is frustratingly passive at times. There's also strong support from the likes of Carrie-Anne Moss, Allison Janney and William Fichtner as the variously useless parents.

The Bad
Director Arie Posin is definitely aiming for a Donnie Darko / American Beauty-type vibe but the script never really pulls it off and the different elements (oblivious, self-medicating parents; the bungled kidnapping) never gel together in a satisfying way. It also doesn't help that the kidnap plot was recently handled much better in the far superior Alpha Dog.

Similarly, Posin's continually recurring Chumscrubber motif (a headless character from a video game) is both unclear and clumsily used throughout the film, leaving the audience at something of a loss as to what it's all supposed to mean.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Chumscrubber is disappointing and not nearly as clever or as quirky as it thinks it is, but it remains just about watchable thanks to its performances.

Film Trailer

The Chumscrubber (15)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 12:07

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