McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Adele's '25' Official First Week U.S. Sales: 3.38 Milli...
Adele announces first tour since 2011 for album "25" ...
Kathie Lee Gifford's Family Reveals Her Late Husband Fr...
American Music Awards 2015: Proximity to action matters...
Brad Pitt Says He's 'Angry' at the Finance Industry Aft...
Adele Speaks Exclusively on New Music:'The Most Poignan...
'The Walking Dead' reveals Glenn's fate ...
Adele Performs on Saturday Night Live: Video ...
Blacklisted: The Inside Story of Dalton Trumbo and the ...
Ryan Seacrest Confirms All American Idol Judges Will Re...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Thumbsucker (2005)

"Justin, are you ready to let go of your thumb?"
- Dr. Perry Lyman (Keanu Reeves)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 07, 2006

Stars: Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn
Other Stars: Keanu Reeves, Benjamin Bratt, Kelli Garner
Director: Mike Mills

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: R for drug/alcohol use and sexuality involving teens, language and a disturbing image
Run Time: 01h:35m:54s
Release Date: January 24, 2006
UPC: 043396114821
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-B+ B

DVD Review

There's a magical span of years, when you're growing up, that you believe adults, and especially your parents, have all the answers. It's a little scary to get older and figure out that they don't, that no one does. I'm not speaking from experience, but I imagine the most terrifying thing about being a parent is knowing this, and knowing you have to somehow hide that fact from a little person who depends on you for everything. These insecurities, on both sides of the generation gap, are the heart of writer/director Mike Mills' Thumbsucker, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Walter Kirn.

Justin (Lou Pucci) has an unfortunate habit, one that falls somewhere below compulsive public masturbation on the scale of socially acceptable behaviors—he's 17, and he still sucks his thumb, an infantile act of self-soothing that causes him great shame. His parents, Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Audrey (Tilda Swinton), aren't much better at acting like adults—they insist Justin and his younger brother (Chase Offerle) call them by their first names, lest they feel too old, and Audrey spends her free time daydreaming about winning a contest for a date with the star (Benjamin Bratt) of a TV cop show.

Justin wants to change his life. Spiritual guidance from his enlightened dentist (Keanu Reeves), who tells him to call on his power animal whenever he feels the urge to sneak a secret suck, doesn't work (maybe because Justin's idea of a power animal is a fawn), but Ritalin proves to be just the ticket. Suddenly, the kid who was too nervous to speak up in debate team practice is his coach's (Vince Vaughn) star speaker, headed to the state finals. But is Justin living better through chemistry, really? Is he even himself on the drug, or is he trying to fix not a problem, but his personality?

Thumbsucker is one of those movies with a deep, profound Life Lesson at its core—basically, that everyone is screwed up in some way, and sometimes, maybe it's better to accept your faults than to spend your entire life making yourself miserable trying to fix them. Certainly all of the characters suffer under the weight of expectation. Mike hates to see his son sucking his thumb, but secretly desires the soothing simplicity it represents. Audrey is a mom, but wishes she had all the responsibility of a teenager. Justin flirts with a fellow debater, Rebecca (Kelli Garner) who pretends to be an environmental activist because it's important to her parents; she'd be happier sneaking pot in her room. Even Justin's little brother feels pressured. "You ever think that you're so busy being weird, that I have to step up and be normal?" he asks.

Not everything works—the film is either too funny or too serious, depending on your take—but it's got a point, at least, and goes about communicating it in an interesting way (certainly far better than the similarly themed, numbingly tedious, and equally poorly titled The Chumscrubber, which incidentally also features Pucci). Mike Mills proves himself to be a fine writer and a very promising director—sure, the big name actors are all great, but he makes sure their characters all fit into the same film, and the visuals and symbols, even if they never quite land on profundity, never struck me as pretentious.

Thumbsucker's biggest problem, then, is likely its basic concept, but if you can get past the gooey feelings churned up by what it's about, and focus on what it's about, in a universal sense, you'll find it has something worthwhile to offer.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Joaquin Baca-Asay's widescreen cinematography translates nicely to DVD in this mostly excellent anamorphic transfer. Colors are rich and natural, and the image shows good detail. If you've got an eye for edge enhancement, you'll likely spot your share of it—the problem popped up more than once—but otherwise, this is a good presentation of a low-budget film that doesn't look like one.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Another DD 5.0 track from Sony. The mix does what it needs to do, and that's about all you can ask. Dialogue sounds crystal clear and natural coming from the center channel, while the catchy soundtrack from Elliot Smith and The Polyphonic Spree fills out into the front mains and surround channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring 2046, Junebug, Saint Ralph, Breakfast on Pluto, London, The Tenants, The Memory of a Killer
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Mike Mills
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Thumbsucker doesn't have a lot of features, but it has the best kind of features—all are interesting and relevant, and they shine new light on the film, revealing the motivations behind it and the themes that drive it.

Director Mike Mills is soft-spoken but engaging on his commentary track, one of the better ones I've heard lately. He jumps from subject to subject, discussing what drew him to the film, the adaptation process, working with the actors and technical details.

A Behind-the-Scenes Documentary (21m:11s) offers a nice glimpse at the production, and the thought that went into crafting the characters and their onscreen relationships. In-between footage of different scenes being filmed, the actors and Mills discuss how they put these characters together, a process that involved a few weeks of rehearsal. Free from promotional spin and excessive film clips, this is an excellent piece that could have gone on quite a bit longer.

Mills and novelist Walter Kirn have a Conversation (41m:31s) during which they discuss their working relationship and the major themes of both the novel and the film (which Kirn based on his own life and family). It's a pretty interesting discussion, if a little gooey at times (i.e. when Mills reads some favorite passages from the book). But if you didn't get the movie and want to know what the filmmaker intended, this is the place to find out. They also discuss the reasons for what is a rather unfortunate title. At one point, Mills comments that he encountered reluctance, even mild repulsion, from potential financers while trying to get the movie made, primarily because of the title. Yes. Kirn: "You have to look pretty far a field these days to find a behavior we're uncomfortable with... This is a genuinely uncomfortable behavior, and I think it immediately brings out that side of everyone which they want to hide." He then wins fans by comparing the habit to bondage and big manly men sucking on longneck beer bottles (another form of self-soothing behavior, you see).

For those with DVD-ROM drives, the disc includes the director's blog entries, written during the film's production. As always, these kinds of extras can't be accessed on a Mac, so I'll just have to imagine how truly awesome they are. Ooooh. Aaaah.

The teaser and theatrical trailers have been included on nearly every Sony disc I've reviewed in the last three months, but you won't find them included here. Instead, there are clips for 2046, Junebug, Saint Ralph, Breakfast on Pluto, London, The Tenants, and The Memory of a Killer.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

A quirky look at the relationships between parents and their kids and kids and parents who act like kids, Thumbsucker doesn't quite attain its lofty goals, but it doesn't feel like it's overreaching, either. A fine, measured debut from director Mike Mills, and a great DVD from Sony.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


music, adele, 25, 3.38 million copies, nsync, no strings attached, 21, tour europe, spotify, apple music, pandora music inc., television, frank gifford, nfl hall of famer, sportscaster, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, kathy lee gifford, american music awards, talor swift, one direction, jennifer lopez, selena gomez, nicki minaj, justin bieber, movie, the big short, steve carell, ryan gosling, christian bale, michael lewis, brad pitt, hello, 19, the walking dead, amc, davod alpert, glen, heads up, saturday night live, 25 album, skyfall, nrj awards, graham norton, herbert biberman, john howard lawson, lester cole, ring lardner jr., samuel ornitz, adrian scott, albert maltz, alvah bessie, edward dmytryk, dalton trumbo, reality, american idol, ryan seacrest, mariah carey, ellen degeneres, harry connick jr., keith urban, simon cowell, paula abdul, randy jackson, steven tyler, kara dioguardi, televison, fargo, fx, kirsten dunst, jesse plemons, jean smart, jeffrey donovan, bokeem woodbine, brad garrett, patrick wilson, celebrity, bruce willis, laurie metcalf, misery, broadway debut, paris tragedy, u2, foo fighters, steven spielberg, natalie portman, book, the diary of anne frank, otto frank, swiss foundation, daytime talk, 2000 shows, justin timberlake, jennifer aniston, sequel, animated, finding nemo, finding dory, disney-pixar, diane keaton, eugene levy, inventor, hedy lamarr, google doodle, ecstasy, samson and delilah, bbc music, angelina jolie pitt, by the sea, troubled marriage, mr. & mrs. smith, gwen stefani blake shelton, country music awards, the voice, miranda lambert, jon stewart, john oliver, hbo, wonder woman, nicole kidman, amazonian warrior, gal gadot, chris pine, nick lachey, 98 degrees, pot grower, ohio, nanette lepore, oscar robertson, frostee rucker, the red bulletin, james bond, daniel craig, naomi harris, bond girl, a. o. scott, 1977, star wars, elvis, beatles, sesame street, j.k. rowling, israel, palestine, culture for coexistence, harry potter and the deathly hallows, ricky gergais, 2016 golden globes, hollywood foreign press association, jessica biel, 2015 fashion group international night of stars gala, flip phone, the power of love, huey lewis, michael j. fox, back to the future

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store