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4.0 4
Director: Harmony Korine

Cast: Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell


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In this elliptical ensemble piece, which marks the directorial debut of indie bad boy Harmony Korine, the teens of tornado-scarred Xenia, OH, kill cats, tape their boobies, arm-wrestle, bathe, cross-dress, huff glue, avoid perverts, pay to have sex with retarded girls, lift makeshift dumbbells to the strains of Madonna's "Like a Prayer," fight, cuss, shave their


In this elliptical ensemble piece, which marks the directorial debut of indie bad boy Harmony Korine, the teens of tornado-scarred Xenia, OH, kill cats, tape their boobies, arm-wrestle, bathe, cross-dress, huff glue, avoid perverts, pay to have sex with retarded girls, lift makeshift dumbbells to the strains of Madonna's "Like a Prayer," fight, cuss, shave their eyebrows, undergo cancer treatment, euthanize senior citizens, and pee on passing cars. A hallucinatory barrage of images and scenarios with little in the way of traditional plot, Gummo has been variously described as a surrealist joke, a visual poem, and a worm's-eye view of white-trash suffering. The main characters include Solomon (Jacob Reynolds), who sells cat carcasses to a middleman who procures them for use at a local Chinese restaurant; his mother (Linda Manz), who teaches him to tap dance while reminiscing about her dead husband; Tummler (Nick Sutton), a mullet-haired local sex symbol; a midget (Bryant L. Crenshaw); a pair of boy-crazy, bleach-blond sisters named Dot (Chloe Sevigny) and Helen (Carisa Bara); a slut with a lump in her breast (Lara Tosh); a group of drunken louts; and Bunny Boy (Jacob Sewell), who wanders the town enigmatically in a pair of long pink ears. In between scenes of these characters enacting their bizarre routines, Korine intersperses impressionistic and quasi-documentary scenes with voice-over narration that ranges from incest memoirs to arty dialogue along the lines of "He's got what it takes to be a legend: He's got a marvelous persona." Shot just outside Nashville, TN, Gummo includes costume designs by Korine's then-girlfriend, Chloe Sevigny, who also plays Dot and who previously starred in the Korine-scipted, Larry Clark-directed Kids. Jacob Reynolds would go on to appear in Getting to Know You, though few of the director's other discoveries have appeared on film since.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Shot outside of Nashville but set in Ohio, Gummo marks the ragged, arresting feature film debut of then-22-year-old Kids writer Harmony Korine. Starting with underage kids cursing in a singsong voice-over, a bobbling camera follows a shirtless boy with bunny ears, when suddenly the soundtrack changes into a yodeled folk song about a rooster. Though non-narrative, the moment-to-moment shocks create a somewhat fascinating, noisy rhythm. One scene of a teenage boy speculating about his girlfriend's breast lump slides into one of a twentysomething nothing (Max Perlich) pimping his sister, a young girl who clearly has Down syndrome. The extreme nature of the subject matter -- which runs the graphic gamut from dwarf sex to glue sniffing to cat assassinating -- polarized the film's public and critical reception. Gus van Sant envied the movie, provoking New York Times stalwart Janet Maslin to respond with a shopworn "worst of the year" tag. The fact is that Gummo dares to film characters in the moral vacuum where a great many Americans make their home. This peculiar, paradoxical brand of invective was also heaped on innovators like Werner Herzog (who, admiring Korine, starred in his next feature, Julien Donkey-Boy), Luis Buñuel, and John Waters, as well as films like Freaks. At the very least, Korine knows which buttons to press, bringing it all off in a fashion not dissimilar to the old, weird folk tunes that grace his grime. Gummo shows this young man as a sly, overcompensating, but never uninteresting lenser of low-rent anti-Americana.
All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Although it's not for the weak of heart or the easily offended, this bizarre offering from precocious auteur Harmony Korine certainly is amusing and disturbing in equal measures. Say what you will about a hipster New York director wallowing in the go-nowhere lives of a bunch of dirt-poor rural teens, but these disjointed vignettes have both a traffic-accident magnetism and a surreal beauty. Korine spent part of his childhood in Nashville, near where Gummo was filmed, and his stylistic choices here blur the distinctions between documentary, improvisation, and fictional filmmaking. It's hard to know how to take some of this stuff; the writer/director exerts no discernible point of view beyond a hint of detached amusement. But the film's uncertainty is precisely what makes it so refreshingly honest. The sheer crassness of some of the scenarios -- a boy discovering a lump in the breast of the girl he's feeling up, a retarded teen turning tricks while her brother/pimp tweaks his nipples, and Korine himself jokily propositioning a gay African-American dwarf while recounting tales of being sodomized as a child -- may rankle. The absurd humor and outré imagery, however, should go over well with the urban sophisticates at whom the film is pitched. Korine's muse, Chloe Sevigny, turns in the most indelible of her many white-trash chic performances, trumping even her celebrated role in Boys Don't Cry. Meanwhile, newcomers Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, and Jacob Sewell, among others, make quite an impression with their vérité-tinged performances. Character actor Max Perlich enjoys a brief but memorable cameo, while Days of Heaven actress Linda Manz provides a hilarious tap dancing lesson and a few wonderful maternal harangues. Whether all of this adds up to much is for the viewer to decide, but for adventurous cinephiles, Gummo certainly offered up one of the least-predictable American indies of the late '90s.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Archives
[Full Frame]
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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jacob Reynolds Solomon
Nick Sutton Tummler
Jacob Sewell Bunny Boy
Darby Dougherty Darby
Chloë Sevigny Dot
Carisa Bara Helen
Linda Manz Solomon's Mom
Max Perlich Cole

Technical Credits
Harmony Korine Director,Screenwriter
Steven Borne Sound/Sound Designer
Stephen Chin Executive Producer
David Doernberg Production Designer
Jean-Yves Escoffier Cinematographer
Randy Fletcher Asst. Director
Scott Macaulay Co-producer
Robin O'Hara Co-producer
Randall Poster Musical Direction/Supervision
Lyn Richmond Casting
Chloë Sevigny Costumes/Costume Designer
Amy Beth Silver Art Director
Christopher Tellefsen Editor
Mia Thoen Makeup
Ruth Vitale Executive Producer
Cary Woods Producer
Melissa Zaroff Sound Editor

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Gummo 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this movie. It had no real plot but it was about a couple of kids just hanging out with lots of time on their hands. Bunny Boy is the best character, he shows passion and comedy without being to stuck up. He is also really really hot!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the freakiest film I've seen in years. I haven't watched it for a while, but I have vivid memories of the whacked out, amoral characters and their white bread pallor. Seeing a bunch of drunk guys wrestling a chair for fun, watching someone sell dead cats for glue, and listening to the great soundtrack....it's like the times in the summer as a kid when you knew you were doing wrong...but it was too much fun to care. A long heat hazy, fly buzzing ride through a damaged and bizzare community, this is an essential film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
fantastic movie...very original.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago