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3.3 3
Director: Mike Mills, Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughn

Cast: Mike Mills, Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughn

A high-school senior finds that fate (and modern medicine) plays some interesting tricks with his personality in this dramatic comedy. Justin Conn (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a neurotic teenager who has a difficult time with his peers, especially Rebecca (Kelli Garner), a cute girl in his debate class with whom he is somewhat mutually infatuated. It isn't much better at


A high-school senior finds that fate (and modern medicine) plays some interesting tricks with his personality in this dramatic comedy. Justin Conn (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a neurotic teenager who has a difficult time with his peers, especially Rebecca (Kelli Garner), a cute girl in his debate class with whom he is somewhat mutually infatuated. It isn't much better at home with his obnoxious younger brother Joel (Chase Offerle), his father, Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio), who is busy having a midlife crisis, and mother Audrey (Tilda Swinton), who's infatuated with one of her favorite TV actors (Benjamin Bratt). All this anxiety has to go somewhere, and Justin's manifestation of his troubles comes in the form of sucking his thumb, which makes him even more of an outcast. Dr. Perry Lyman (Keanu Reeves), an orthodontist who seems to double as a new age therapist, treats Justin with hypnosis; meanwhile, the school psychologist decides he has Attention Deficit Disorder, and treats him with medication. Suddenly, Justin stops sucking his thumb and becomes an outgoing overachiever, single-handedly taking his school debate team to the state championship. But Justin's relationshop with his debate coach, Mr. Geary (Vince Vaughn), becomes strained, and the boy tries to mold yet another new identity for himself. Thumbsucker was the first feature film from Mike Mills, who previously distinguished himself in commercials and music videos.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
An almost perfectly balanced combination of real-life adolescent awkwardness and laugh-out-loud comedy, writer/director Mike Mills' Thumbsucker is an absolute success. Lou Taylor Pucci shines in his first leading role in a feature film with a performance that is nuanced, funny, and geared well for the camera. The young actor strikes a careful balance in his portrayal of Justin, so that while his screen presence is compelling, his struggles still remain raw. The grace with which Pucci mixes the emotion and humor in the script can't be praised enough, as this is what keeps the potentially cumbersome subject matter of a 17-year-old thumbsucker from becoming too awkward for audiences to handle. It's only too easy to see how an actor with less charisma would have left audiences too uncomfortable to enjoy the film, while a run-of-the-mill cutie-pie couldn't possibly have done justice to such understated emotional material. Pucci's ability to pull us in with his tenderness and charm is what enables us to put ourselves in Justin's shoes; his imperfect relationship with his parents comes off as both strange and universal, and while his embarrassing fixation always seems potentially humiliating, it also feels analogous to any other coping mechanism, so it's never outside the viewer's scope of relating. The supporting cast also does a stellar job of injecting that highly necessary laughter, sarcasm, and perspective. Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio evoke flawed but forgivable characters with the masterful skill we've come to expect from them, while Keanu Reeves approaches his role with such surprisingly self-effacing grace, you almost want to pat him on the back. Vince Vaughn takes his own road less traveled and reminds us of the subtlety that first landed him on the map, as he avoids the frat-pack comic style we've come to expect from him and keeps his performance as the eccentric high-school debate coach reeled in despite numerous opportunities to jump over the top. The beauty with which these actors engage in the poignant and infuriating tangle of their characters' relationships owes to more than just chemistry but also to an organic realism in the script itself. The resulting interplay combines the passion of an opera, the delicacy of a ballet, and the rawness of an unflinching documentary, turning what could easily have been a cringingly uncomfortable satire into something both beautiful and real.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Audio commentary with writer/director Mike Mills; Conversation with director Mike Mills and novelist Walter Kirn; Behind-the-scenes documentary; Director's blog

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lou Taylor Pucci Justin Cobb
Tilda Swinton Audrey Cobb
Vince Vaughn Mr. Geary
Vincent D'Onofrio Mike Cobb
Keanu Reeves Dr. Perry Lyman
Benjamin Bratt Matt Schramm
Kelli Garner Rebecca
Chase Offerle Joel Cobb
Patrick Chu Debater

Technical Credits
Mike Mills Director,Screenwriter
Joaquin Baca-Asay Cinematographer
Judy Becker Production Designer
Haze J. F. Bergeron Asst. Director
Walter Cahall Art Director
Anne Carey Executive Producer
Tim DeLaughter Score Composer
Haines Hall Editor
Ted Hope Executive Producer
Kent Sparling Sound/Sound Designer
Heather Loeffler Set Decoration/Design
Dawn Massaro Asst. Director
Jeanne McCarthy Casting
Glenn Micallef Sound/Sound Designer
Jonathan Millller Sound Editor
April Napier Costumes/Costume Designer
Brian Reitzell Musical Direction/Supervision
Cathy Schulman Executive Producer
Bob Stephenson Producer
Angus Wall Editor
Bob Yari Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Thumbsucker
1. Start [2:26]
2. Searching for Distinction [2:58]
3. A Weighty Subconscious [2:14]
4. Aim Low to Achieve [2:01]
5. No Fun While Shopping [2:17]
6. Bravery, But No Trust [2:52]
7. Unclothed and Closed Off [5:25]
8. The Power of Hypnosis [3:38]
9. His Truth Is Nothing [3:02]
10. Change in a Bottle? [5:05]
11. Chemical Clarity [3:40]
12. A Newly Great Debator [3:30]
13. The Way It Goes [2:21]
14. Striving for Success [4:25]
15. "Let Me Be Happy|00:02:51|}
16. Applying by Lying [2:03]
17. New Philosophies for Life [2:19]
18. A Monster With a Dream [3:08]
19. How to Deal With It [3:25]
20. A New Drug [3:20]
21. Fantasy Addiction [4:56]
22. A Teenage Experiment [2:57]
23. Mother and Wife Pretender [3:53]
24. Saved ba Lonely Angel [4:50]
25. The "Normal" One Speaks [1:53]
26. Acceptance [:10]
27. "You're Already Gone" [2:22]
28. Life Without Answers [2:16]


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3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this movie is amazing! all the actinbg is incredible, and the plot is wonderful. oh and it also helps that lou taylor pucci is an incredible actor, and a very pretty pretty man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found “ThumbSucker” to be an emotionally honest film, but not tedious as the film looks for some outlandish opportunities thankfully. It seems a pretty confident debut for someone working with "big" names: Keanu's unorthodox orthodontist, Vincent D'Onofrio as a self-silencing sort with a hint Donald Sutherland maybe, Vince Vaughan still funny without banging on the funny bone and Tilda Swinton delivers a performance both lucid and opaque. Lastly Lou Pucci in the middle of it all with an earnest innocence that doesn't feel vapid. He works as an EveryBoy for me, plus the way his looks mimic Swintons (and the younger boy's mimic D'Onofrio I wonder if that was conscious casting??) There are some great lines in this film, two by Swinton in a pivotal scene, and actually Benjamin Bratt reveals those to us. D'Onofrio also says something like "I'm just getting used to you" at a crucial point, and that captures the sad fleeting nature of being a parent with doubt. Aside from parents, I also loved the dialog with the younger brother at the end of the film a nice solipsism shattering scene, and probably one beloved by younger siblings the world round. And the three stages of Keanu are both funny and illuminating. The film may be a little slow to find itself, and on the commentary there was some conversation about how taboo thumbsucking is, so perhaps that has something to do with my initial reaction? Maybe thumbsucking is such a strong but subjugated symbol of mother-love, or a sort of surreally sensual one?? The film is lifted by humor (when not always expected, Vaughan applying mascara to a debate débutante, he must of ad-libbed that??!?), yet the film is also riveted by relaxed-yet-focused performances by *everyone* (again a testament to Mike Mills the director). I do have to give a hand (or a thumb for that matter) to Lou Pucci who does a formidable job in his acting debut as Justin the Thumbsucker. He does have a bright future ahead of him if he keeps it up and of course Vaughn lick this thumb just enough for me to give this film 4 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago