Directed by: Mike Mills
Written by:Mike Mills
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves, Benjamin Bratt
Released: November 24, 2005
Grade: B+

Justin Cobb (Pucci) sees himself as a troubled teenager.  He has little self confidence, has few friends, has never had a girlfriend, and gets poor results at school.  He also has a noticeable habit of sucking his thumb.

Justin’s orthodontist (Reeves) thinks Justin’s thumb sucking problem can be helped through hypnosis.  Justin’s teacher (Vaughn) thinks he has attention deficit disorder and suggests he take the drug Ritalin to help him focus.  Justin’s father (D’Onofrio) thinks a good slap across the head will curb his negative behaviour.

Everyone is meddling in Justin’s life and here in lies one of the messages in this low-budget, independent film.  We all have problems and we all want to make things better but sometimes we should just accept who we are.  By obsessing with our own self-improvement, we lose focus on the good things and the richness of life passes us by.

There’s more to the story and I’m sorry for getting mushy but I like what Thumbsucker has to offer.  Newcomer Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Justin in a performance which won him best actor prize at the lucrative Berlin Film Festival.  Previous winners have included Benecio Del Toro (Traffic), Denzel Washington (The Hurricane) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo & Juliet).

Thumbsucker is a smart comedy but if you’re not taken in by the story, its off-beat tone will drive you to distraction.  See it… but only if you want to see it.