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USA: Newmarket Films
UK: Icon Film Distributors
Cast: Jamie Bell, Camilla Belle, Justin Chatwin, Glenn Close, Rory Culkin, William Fichtner, Ralph Fiennes, John Heard, Lauren Holly, Allison Janney, Josh Janowicz, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lou Taylor Pucci, Rita Wilson, Thomas Curtis, Clam Davis, Tim DeKay, David Ellison, Richard Gleason, Caroline Goodall, Eric Jungmann, Arron Kinser, Jeff Parise, Max Van Ville, Seth T Walker
Director: Arie Posin
USA: 102 mins
UK: 107 mins
USA Rated: R for language, violent content, drug material and some sexuality
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language, violence and drug misuse
USA Release Date: 5 August 2005 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 8 June 2007
THE CHUMSCRUBBER is a surreal cautionary tale about an alienated youth forced to confront the disconnect between parents and teenagers in suburbia, rendered with a razor's edge balance of comedy and drama.
When Dean Stiffle (Billy Elliot's Jamie Bell) discovers the body of his best friend, Troy (Josh Janowicz), hanging in his bedroom, he doesn't bother telling any of the parents in his postcard perfect California neighborhood, figuring they wouldn't care. Dean shows no outward signs of remorse, and his father (William Fichtner), author of best-selling pop psychology books with titles such as The Happy Accident, treats his son with all the affection of a lab rat. "Dad," Dean deadpans, "if you write about me again in one of your stupid books, I'm going to kill you.
While Dean shrugs his way through high school wearing a psychic cloak of invisibility, his best friend Troy—the school's leading drug dealer—throws the community's carefully maintained psychotherapeutic balance into disarray when he hangs himself during one of his mother's pool parties. At school, in an effort to get their hands on Troy's stash, Dean's classmates Billy (Justin Chatwin), Crystal (Camilla Belle), and Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci) plot a kidnapping scheme: they'll abduct Dean's younger brother, Charlie (Rory Culkin), and hold him for ransom in exchange for Dean retrieving Troy's pills. Only, the hapless gang kidnaps the wrong boy, snatching Charley Bratley (Thomas Curtis) instead. Son of divorced parents—police officer Lou Bratley (John Heard), and interior decorator Terri (Rita Wilson)—Charley's disappearance goes unnoticed by his mother, who is too consumed with the planning of her elaborate second wedding to town mayor Michael Ebbs (Ralph Fiennes), to realize her son has gone missing.
As these characters careen through their white-picket-fence world, each pursuing some dream, some ideal, some panacea they believe will make them happy—be it prescription or illicit drugs, vitamin supplements, the perfect body, a fairy tale wedding, self-help books, or New Age mysticism—the fractured and fractious quality of life in American suburbia is rendered with crystalline precision.
The kids and adults of Hillside live their lives entirely separately—like two opposing camps—a mournful divide played out in a visual scheme of sun-dappled, hallucinatory realism. Deciding both whether and how to negotiate these two worlds is Dean, a character whose very name purposely invokes the entire history of troubled teenage movie outsiders, from James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE to Christian Slater's J.D. in HEATHERS...
... And everywhere there is "The Chumscrubber." A totemic pop culture presence that prowls his own post-apocalyptic landscape peopled with subhuman demons and freaks, the ubiquitous "Chumscrubber" bubbles up in television cartoons, in violent video games, on posters and T-shirts and stickers and rear view mirrors as... An embodiment of teen rage? A manifestation of the town's repression? A shadow vision of its collective unconscious?
Richly layered, thematically provocative, filled with epiphanic visual moments and a haunting original score by James Horner, stocked with the deepest cast bench of any recent ensemble film, THE CHUMSCRUBBER announces the arrival of a major film artist.