Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This one pretty much lost me, but then I’m not sharpest knife in the drawer or is it that I’m not the brightest bulb in the box?  Whatever the euphemism is, that’s me.  Maybe it’s that I don’t care to see another movie, or another television show about pretty suburban kids and their problems.  Maybe it’s that any kid who is outright disrespectful to their parents, is a kid that I instantly despise and thus I will never be able to see his ‘side’ of things.  Maybe I’m insensitive, but I have a hard time garnering a lot of sympathy for a kid who takes drugs to escape from the pain, when that pain consist of, hell, I don’t know, boredom and having to drive a crappy car.  So, since I didn’t ‘get’ ‘The Chumscrubber’, It would stand to reason that I didn’t like it that much either.


Since I’m close to twenty years removed from high school, I recognize that I might not get what this present generation has to deal with, but some things, I would think, are universal.  For instance, I can’t imagine my mother or father giving me a hard time about something and my response being ‘Why don’t you just leave me the f**k alone!’  I can guarantee you that if I had given such a response, I would be here talking to you now.  But this is the kind of behavior one can consistently expect from the troubled youth in ‘The Chumscrubber’. 

Jamie Bell plays pill popping, friendless, troubled youth Dean living in bright, sunny, clean and soulless suburbia with his videogame addicted brother Charlie (Rory Caulkin), Stepford wife mother Allie (Allison Janey) and book writing psychologist father who always want’s to know ‘how does that make you feel’, Bill (William

Fitchner).  When Dean's lone friend, school pill pusher Troy hangs himself and is found by Jamie, this sets in motion a chain of unfortunate events.  The primary situation would be school bully Billy (Justin Chatwin) and his crew of two, Crystal (Camilla Belle) and Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci) want Troy's drugs and demand that Dean get them for him.  To insure that he does this, they kidnap his brother Charlie, or actually they kidnap a kid named Charlie who they think is his brother.  They’ve actually grabbed Charlie Brantley, the police chief’s son, who thinks it’s kind of cool to be kidnapped.


Amidst this chaos, you have other mini drama’s taking place in the periphery such as Troy’s mother Carrie (Glen Close) planning her son’s funeral, town mayor Michael in the midst of a mental collapse (Ralph Fiennes) while preparing to marry snooty developer and mother of the kidnapped boy Terri (Rita Wilson), who has no idea her son has been kidnapped.  There is Crystal’s hot mom Jerri (Carrie Anne-Moss) who is in a hotness competition with her daughter while also jonesing for the mayor, and Deans’ father is attempting to push his latest book at the neglect of his family.  Welcome to Suburbia.


Personally, I could give less than a f**k.  Harsh perhaps, but I gotta let you know how I feel.  I didn’t care that Troy killed himself.  Troy’s bedroom was the pool house separate from his parents’ house, and yet his life was so crappy that he had to end it?  Because, as far as I could glean, his despair was due to the unlikelihood of him becoming a Rock guitarist?  I know high school houses a tough crowd, but if a kid hangs himself, then the bully kid drops a hanging effigy from the roof at the school as joke in front of the kids’ only friend, surely the WHOLE SCHOOL wouldn’t think it’s funny.  Or is this an accurate representation of the Columbine generation?  I sure as God hope not.


The only scene that rang true to me, or the one that I could directly identify with is when Billy the Bully threw a knife through the wall of his bedroom.  His dad comes in and asks who did it, to which Billy had no problem letting know it was him, and since it was his room he could do what he wanted.  His dad correctly reprimanded him letting know that it was not his room, but a room in HIS house that he allows him to stay in.  Then he ushered him out and I guess we are to assume that he beat Billy’s ass.  Thus we are also to assume the Billy is being abused and this is why he’s such dick.  Give me a freakin’ break.  All these kids near their asses beat.


Ably directed by Arie Posin, I’m certain ‘The Chumscrubber’ may sound a siren to anybody who can relate to these kinds of people living these kinds of lives.  I don’t know anybody like this, and if I did, I wouldn’t know them long.  ‘The Chumscrubber’ said absolutely nothing to me other than clean schools, clean streets, wealthy neighborhoods and stay at home parents equals f**ked up children.  Give me a freakin’ break.

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