A review of ďThumbsuckerĒ by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: **

Rating: R for nudity and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes


††††††††† ďThumbsuckerĒ envelops the germ of a solid indie concept that suffers mightily in the translation.

††††††††† Lanky long-haired Justin Cobb (Lou Taylor Pucci) is your average teenaged boy; floundering in the malaise of horny crushes, middling academics and parents who alternately coddle and misunderstand him. His answer to intense adolescent stress is thumb-sucking.

††††††††† Mom Audrey (Tilda Swinton) is supportive and dad Mike (Vincent DíOnofrio) isnít, preferring threats to constructive criticism. Audrey has her own crosses to bear, bored with her nursing career and harboring a futile midlife crush on hunky TV star Matt Schramm (hunkier Benjamin Bratt).

††††††††† Thumb-sucking isnít Justinís only issue. A team of school psychologists and teachers diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) so itís a steady diet Ritalin and Clonidine to steer him around the obstacles of his miserable existence.

††††††††† The medication does what counseling could not, turning Justin into a focused academic superstar.He rises to the top of the debate team, endlessly deliberating the merits of socio-economic concerns under the thoughtful tutelage of popular English teacher Mr. Geary (a sorely miscast Vince Vaughn).

††††††††† If itís not one thing itís another. In addition to his fragmented home life and newfound intellectual celebrity, Justin regularly endures the Zen wisdom of spiritual orthodontist Dr. Lyman (Keanu Reeves in ridiculous dude mode), a New Age tooth specialist with a penchant for patient hypnosis.

††††††††† A solid array of A-list talent canít save ďThumbsuckerĒ from its glib, artsy self. The captivating matter of the opposable digit is lost among a plethora of intriguing plot points without resolution, mired in a murky coming-of-age melting pot that has seen one too many variations to make this one memorable.