December 11, 2008

#004: Step Brothers / Thumbsucker

     This past week I watched 2 movies that were very different. I watched the most recent Will Ferrell zany comedy, and a fairly obscure indie film from 2005.

     I will start out with Step Brothers. I have to qualify everything I say by telling you that I had very low expectations for this movie. I wasn't even sure I wanted to watch it, but I was in the mood for a comedy so I went ahead and queued it up. Overall I would have to say this movie exceeded my expectations. I'm not really saying this movie was great, but it is what it is, and it provided quite a few laughs. There is never really any message in this type of movie, and the plots are usually a mess. You just kinda have to go along with it and laugh at the crazy stuff they come up with. I was surprised by how vulgar this movie was. It was produced by Judd Apatow and I could definitely see his influence. He is the guy who is behind The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, & Superbad... among others. All three of those movies seem to have a deeper message beyond the laughs. Step Brothers doesn't really have that component. There is nothing serious that can be taken away from this movie. I don't really have anything else to say about it. If you like the standard stupid comedy I would recommend checking this one out. I found it to be pretty funny.

     The next movie I wanted to write about is called Thumbsucker. You may have heard about this movie when it was released, but I had not. I heard it mentioned on the Filmspotting podcast, so I decided to check it out because it seemed like I would enjoy it. The movie is about a 17 year old boy who still sucks his thumb. He is getting pressure to stop this habit from his parents and his dentist/psychologist played by Keanu Reeves. He finds out that the solutions to one problem just seem to cause others. The film follows him through his senior year of high school and shows us all the changes he undergoes while preparing for the next stage of his life. I really enjoyed this movie. Sometimes Indie films are hard for me to watch because they can get too caught up in the art and come across more like a series of well crafted scenes that are loosely stung together, causing me to lose focus. For me, the story of this movie was very engaging and had me interested all the way. I felt like it was very well put together. It definitely falls into the "character movie" category. The plot is only moved forward by the changes that this boy is going through.

     One thing I really bought into about this movie was the message it was trying to send. I don't really want to tell you what the movie is about, because that is really up to your own interpretation. For me it had a fairly clear message that I identified with. However, there were parts that I really didn't get the point of. I guess your own background will make you decide which scenes you deem important to the overall message. This is definitely a coming-of-age story about an awkward teenager. However, all the characters in this movie seem to be on a quest of self-discovery. The movie isn't really about completing that quest, and magically finding yourself. It is more about learning to be okay with how things are; learning to become comfortable in your own skin. It worked for me and I really enjoyed it.

     There are also quite a few stars in this movie. The main character is played by a pretty obscure actor, but he does a great job. I really feel like his performance makes the movie. I did notice a couple of corny scenes by some of the the other kids from his high, but they aren't bad at all. The mother is Tilda Swinton, and the father is that guy from Law & Order. Vince Vaughn is one of the teachers. And like I already mentioned, Keanu Reeves plays the orthodontist. Benjamin Bratt also has a small part in the movie. Overall I thought the acting was very good, although it is difficult to take Keanu Reeves very seriously. I would definitely recommend seeing Thumbsucker.

     If you have seen either of these movies let me know what you thought. I would really like to know what you thought about Thumbsucker. You can post a comment on this blog, or you can email me at my new address .

Filed Under: