Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Mills|
|Screenplay by||Mike Mills|
|Based on|| Thumbsucker |
by Walter Kirn
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Box office||$2.14 million|
Thumbsucker is a 2005 American independent comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Mills and starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kelli Garner, Benjamin Bratt, Vince Vaughn, and Keanu Reeves. The plot focuses on Justin Cobb, a teenager in suburban Oregon, as he copes with his thumb-sucking problem, romance, and his diagnosis with ADHD and subsequent experience using Ritalin. The screenplay was adapted from the 1999 Walter Kirn novel of the same name. Swinton also served as an executive producer.
The film was shot on location in the Portland metropolitan area in 2003, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005. It received a limited release in the United States on September 16, 2005.
Justin Cobb is a shy 17-year-old in a family of four in suburban Oregon. He has a persistent thumb-sucking habit his father disapproves of, which has led to major orthodontic repair. He addresses his parents by their first names, Mike and Audrey, so as not to make his father feel old. Audrey, a registered nurse, is idly fascinated by actor Matt Schramm, entering a contest to win a date with him. She insists it is "innocent fun", but is inordinately concerned with looking attractive for the contest.
Justin struggles on his school's debate team, led by Mr. Geary which he joined to get closer to his environmentalist classmate Rebecca. He tries to start a relationship with her, but she rejects him after he cannot open up to her about his thumb-sucking habit.
At a regular checkup, Justin's orthodontist, Dr. Perry Lyman, indicates he can tell that Justin is still sucking his thumb, and attempts hypnosis, coaching Justin to find his power animal (a deer) and suggesting that his thumb will taste like echinacea. This works, and Justin finds his thumb distasteful, but falls deeper into frustration without the crutch. After Justin conspires with his brother to disrupt Dr. Lyman in a bicycle race with Justin's father, his school counselor prods the Cobbs to give him Ritalin. While his parents wring their hands over the idea, Justin insists that he needs the help.
Almost immediately after beginning treatment, Justin begins to have elevated energy, confidence and focus. He begins to excel on the debate team, unseating Rebecca from the star position; she quits the team and drifts into the stoners crowd. Justin's newfound aggressiveness nets the debate team repeated awards. Simultaneously, he begins to challenge the neuroses of the adults around him, especially their struggles with aging. With a somewhat deceitful cover letter, he applies to NYU, in spite of his mother's urging that he go to college closer to home.
After rambling incoherently at the state debate championship, Justin quits the debate team, throws away the pills, and seeks out Rebecca to hook him up with pot. During their smoking sessions, Rebecca blindfolds him and engages with him in kissing and other sexual activity, which Justin interprets as a relationship. But when he broaches the subject, Rebecca tells him otherwise, calling their meetings an "experiment." He quits both her and the drugs.
Both Justin and his father suspect that Audrey is having an affair with Schramm after she is transferred to a celebrity rehab facility where Schramm has been committed. Attempting to catch his mother in the act, he instead meets Schramm sneaking a smoke in the bushes, and learns the unromantic truth. The next day, he receives an acceptance letter from NYU.
During a final checkup, Dr. Lyman reveals to Justin his discovery that thumb-sucking is not a medically debilitating problem, and says that everyone has their own flaws and nobody has all the answers—that in fact learning to live without having the answers is (perhaps) the answer. On his flight to New York, Justin dreams of reaching his goal of being a TV anchor, "sharing the truth with the world". He wakes up after sleeptalking to find his thumb in his mouth and an attractive girl smiling at him. Slightly embarrassed but self-confident, he introduces himself.
Lou Taylor Pucci was cast in the lead role of Justin after director Mills auditioned around 150 teenaged actors.Swinton was cast as his mother, Audrey, after meeting director Mills eighteen months prior to the production: "I met Mike 18 months ago. We started a conversation, and it kept going." D'Onofrio was cast as Justin's father, Mike, after being impressed by the script, as he felt it "was a tough story to tell." Reeves was cast in the supporting role of Perry Lyman, and completed his work in the film over a four-day period. Initially, Matthew McConaughey was attached to star as Justin's debate team coach, Mr. Geary, but was replaced by Vince Vaughn due to a scheduling conflict.
The film is set in the fictional town of Beaverwood, Oregon, while the source novel had originally been set in Minnesota.Initially, the producers had planned to shoot the film in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the production was incentivized to shoot in Oregon after Governor Ted Kulongoski promised a rebate matching the filming costs of Canada. Mean Creek (2004), another independent film, was shot in the area at the same time, taking advantage of this rebate.
Filming took place in the summer of 2003 in the Portland metropolitan area, beginning in June and completing in late August.Locations included Portland, Tualatin, and Beaverton, Sherwood, Vernonia, and Tigard. The school sequences were shot at Tualatin High School in Tualatin. During filming, Swinton had her twin sons on set with her, and spent time in-between filming at Trillium Lake, and Pucci celebrated his 18th birthday during filming. The final scene in which Justin runs through the New York University campus was shot in New York City, and the only scene not shot in Oregon.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives Thumbsucker a score of 71% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's consensus is: "Though quirky coming-of-age themes are common in indie films, this one boasts a smart script and a great cast."
Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it a "quiet, quirky gem" and "terrific". 's Ken Tucker commented on the film's poignancy, writing: "One of the wonderful things about Thumbsucker is that, unlike so many movies in which a character changes in order to propel the plot forward, this one stops to follow up on the consequences of those changes."Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three stars out of four, writing "I have focused on Justin, but really the movie is equally about the adult characters, who all seem to have lacked adequate parenting themselves. We talk about the tragedy of children giving birth to children; maybe that can happen at any age." New York Magazine
A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised the performances in the film, adding that "Mills, who wrote and directed, keeps the film from slipping either into melodrama or facile satire, the two traps into which this genre is most apt to fall."Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times was less laudatory of the film, noting: "Although the intellectual level of Thumbsucker is quite a few cuts above many teen angst movies and the film boasts several impressively nuanced portrayals as well, it is not sufficiently distinctive to stand wholly apart from the pack. Furthermore, its literary roots peek through rather too often in dialogue that might play well on the page but doesn't sound real when coming out of the mouths of actors."
The soundtrack to the film was originally to consist of a number of cover songs performed by Elliott Smith, but he died before the project's completion. Tim DeLaughter and The Polyphonic Spree were then chosen to compose an original soundtrack after Mills attended one of their shows and was impressed. Three of Smith's songs remain on the soundtrack.
Keanu Charles Reeves is a Canadian actor, author, comic book writer director and musician. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Reeves grew up in Toronto. He began acting in theatre productions, and in television films before making his mainstream film debut in Youngblood (1986). Reeves gained recognition in his breakthrough role as Ted "Theodore" Logan in the science fiction comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). This was followed by a supporting role in Ron Howard's comedy Parenthood, 1991's Point Break, a sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and the independent drama My Own Private Idaho where playing a street hustler received critical praise for his performance. He had a supporting role in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Beaverton is a city in Washington County, in the U.S. state of Oregon that is located 7 miles (11 km) west of Portland in the Tualatin Valley. The city is among the main cities that make up the Portland metropolitan area. Its population was 89,803 at the 2010 census, making it the second-largest city in the county and the sixth-largest city in Oregon. Beaverton is an economic center for Washington County along with neighboring Hillsboro. It is home to the world headquarters of Nike, Inc., which sits outside of city limits in unincorporated county land.
Tualatin is a city located primarily in Washington County in the U.S. state of Oregon. A small portion of the city is also located in neighboring Clackamas County. It is a southwestern suburb in the Portland Metropolitan Area that is located south of Tigard. The population was 26,054 at the 2010 census.
Gus Green Van Sant Jr. is an American film director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author who has earned acclaim as both an independent and mainstream filmmaker. His films typically deal with themes of marginalized subcultures, in particular homosexuality; as a result, Van Sant is considered one of the most prominent auteurs of the New Queer Cinema movement.
Vincent Philip D'Onofrio is an American actor, producer, director, and singer. He is known for his supporting and leading roles in both film and television. He has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and two Saturn Awards, winning one for his supporting role in Men in Black.
Feeling Minnesota is a 1996 American crime drama comedy film written and directed by Steven Baigelman and starring Keanu Reeves, Vincent D'Onofrio, Cameron Diaz, Tuesday Weld, Dan Aykroyd, and Delroy Lindo.
Katherine Matilda Swinton is an English actress, known for her roles in both independent arthouse films and blockbusters. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 2007 film Michael Clayton. She also won the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress for the 2003 film Young Adam, and has received three Golden Globe Award nominations.
Kelli Brianne Garner is an American actress who has appeared in a variety of independent and mainstream films, television, and theater.
Michael Chadbourne Mills is an American film and music video director, writer and graphic designer. He is best known for his independent films Thumbsucker, Beginners, and 20th Century Women. For the latter, Mills was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Lou Taylor Pucci is an American actor who first appeared on film in Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity: Three Portraits in 2002. Pucci had his breakthrough leading role in Thumbsucker (2005), for which he won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Pucci then starred in The Chumscrubber (2005), Fast Food Nation (2006), The Go-Getter (2007), Explicit Ills (2008), and Carriers (2009). Pucci had starring roles in the 2013 Evil Dead remake, as well as The Story of Luke (2013) and Spring (2014).
Bret Michael Harrison is an American actor and musician known predominantly for his work on comedy television series such as Grounded for Life, The Loop, Reaper, and Breaking In.
Thumbsucker is a 1999 novel by Walter Kirn. It was adapted into a film of the same name by Mike Mills in 2005.
The Go-Getter is a 2007 American independent road film directed and written by Martin Hynes. The film stars Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel, and Jena Malone. In the film, 19-year-old Mercer (Pucci) steals a stranger's car to embark on a road trip to find his estranged brother and tell him that their mother has died. He communicates with the car's owner, Kate (Deschanel), via her cell phone while he travels.
George Henry Atkinson was an American missionary and educator in what would become the state of Oregon. In Oregon, he served as a pastor for several churches, helped found what would become Pacific University, and pushed for legislation to create a public school system in Oregon Territory. The Massachusetts native later served as the county schools superintendent in Clackamas and Multnomah counties.
The John Quincy Adams and Elizabeth Young House, also known as the John Quincy Adams Young House, is a historic American saltbox house built in 1869 in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is located in the unincorporated Cedar Mill area of Washington County, Oregon, near Portland, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Alvin Thompson Smith was an American missionary and politician in what became the state of Oregon. A native of Connecticut, he lived in Illinois before moving to the Oregon Country to preach to the Native Americans in the Tualatin Valley. There he served in both the Provisional Government of Oregon and the government of the Oregon Territory, as well as helping to establish Tualatin Academy, later becoming Pacific University. Smith’s former home, the Alvin T. Smith House in Forest Grove, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) is a special parks district located in the eastern part of Washington County in the U.S. state of Oregon. Created in 1955, the district covers all of the city of Beaverton and many of those communities surrounding Beaverton in the Portland metropolitan area. The district covers an area of 50 square miles (130 km2) and serves a population of about 220,000, making it the largest parks district in Oregon. Tualatin Hills operates over 200 facilities totaling 2,100 acres (850 ha), including eight swimming centers. The district has an annual budget of $40 million and is overseen by a five-person board of directors.
Keanu Reeves is a Canadian actor who has appeared in films, television series and video games. He made his film debut in the short One Step Away in 1985. The following year, Reeves appeared in the crime film River's Edge, and the television films Babes in Toyland, Act of Vengeance, and Brotherhood of Justice. His first lead role was as a teenager dealing with his best friend's suicide in the 1988 drama Permanent Record. His breakthrough role came when he played time-travelling slacker Ted "Theodore" Logan in the science fiction comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) with Alex Winter, which was an unexpected commercial success. Reeves followed this with a supporting role in Ron Howard's comedy Parenthood. In 1991 he starred in the action film Point Break with Patrick Swayze, the science fiction comedy sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and the independent drama My Own Private Idaho.
Keanu is a 2016 American buddy action comedy film directed by Peter Atencio and written by Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens. The film stars Peele and Keegan-Michael Key in their first film as lead actors, following five seasons of their sketch TV series. Also featuring Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Nia Long and Will Forte, the plot follows two friends who infiltrate a gang in order to retrieve their stolen kitten.
New York University (NYU) has been the subject of numerous aspects of popular culture. NYU is often portrayed in a variety of television shows, motion pictures, literature, and other media. This is a partially sorted list of NYU's representation in various films and television programs. Fictional NYU students and faculty include Kramer's intern Darren in Seinfeld, who helps him run "Kramerica Industries"; a student reporter in a different episode of Seinfeld who interviews Jerry; Theo Huxtable from The Cosby Show, who graduates from NYU in the series finale; Ross Geller from Friends, who becomes an NYU professor in Season 6; Character Tom Collins from Rent, who taught there; Bud Fox in the movie Wall Street (1987); Finch from the American Pie films; Paul Tannek in Loser (2000); Alex Foreman in In Good Company (2005); Jack Campbell in The Family Man (2000); Céline in the Before trilogy; Clark Kellogg in The Freshman (1990); Justin Cobb in the film version of Thumbsucker (2005), who secretly applies and is accepted to NYU; the songwriter Albert Peterson in the musical Bye Bye Birdie who promises his sweetheart Rosie to start studying at NYU and become an English teacher; and the characters Blair Waldorf, Dan Humphrey, Vanessa Abrams and Georgina Sparks in Gossip Girl. In the 1998 film Stepmom , the character Isabel, in a scene says that she attended NYU. In the 1999 film The Bone Collector, an NYU student gets abducted. In the Hindi film Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, the lead character decides to go to the USA to study film-making at New York University. In the film, Death Wish , Jordan Kersey, the daughter of Paul and Lucy, gets accepted to and attends NYU.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Thumbsucker (film)|