Gummo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gummo Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2013
A disjointed, pointless and depressing exercise in nihilism, with Korine just throwing together random scenes to show the filth of the white trash. But all that he manages to do is make us feel sick at following the loathsome lives of a bunch of repulsive characters.
Super Reviewer
½ May 3, 2009
A largely plotless, impressionistic and depressing tour of the hopeless white trash residents of Xenia, OH. A lot like what would result if someone took home videos of that embarassing welfare-addicted branch of the family no one likes to talk about and mixed them in a blender with experimental shorts from film school; it's sometimes interesting, more frequently incoherent and annoying.
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2012
'Gummo' is a very strange little film. Its documentary realism is rather captivating, the bizarre people we see appear to be completely real.

There's no plot to speak of, its just an insight into underclass America. The filthy circumstances these people live in will make you cringe, as will their moronic forms of socialising, which includes cheered-on chair smashing.

The film is certainly laced with pretension, and there are pointless scenes that just reek of 'art-house'. I can understand why some people wouldn't like it; it's non-linear, quirky narrative is very likely to polarise audiences. However, I found the veritable aberrance of the film undeniably interesting.

While 'Gummo' isn't that good, its candid realism makes its uneventful narrative quite engrossing; it may well be the most peculiar film you ever see.
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2011
With the mix of surrealism and realism, Harmony's vision about the "white trash", boring and strange lifes is unique and for me one of the most importants American movies from the 90's. Gummo is a disturbing portrait, showing to the audience a great acting by Jacob Reynolds. Fresh.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2012
A Very Sick and dirty movie. 1/2 star
Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2011
Now don't get me wrong, I love movies that make no sense and Gummo certainly fits that criteria but I found it was so absurd at times that it even lost its confusion flavour. It made me laugh, it disgusted me in certain parts and it certainly had me uttering "wtf" under my breath, but it didn't make me think as all good disorientation movies should. I still do not understand why it has achieved such cult success and would warrant that Korine be lost in the wastelands of failed directors, because this movie was nothing but regurgitated trash.
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2009
This is a film about your neighborhood. If your interests include cats, hay-rides, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2009
There is so much said about human behavior in this film that has never been able to be captured before. Some might call it nihilistic or dumb, but it depicts a reality that is hauntingly real. It might be way too much of a reality check for some, to see the true disgustingly beautiful world we live in. You can just see how much time and energy was poured into this movie to get a simple message across: We're not perfect. The tone is almost set like a horror, which it really kind've is. The acting was actually really amazing for the look they were going for and was probably the most effective aspect of the film. Years and years of warped generations can be seen so easily and that makes it all the more disturbing.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2009
"Gummo" is a disturbing and completely unique work of art by one of the few cinematic geniuses of our time, Harmony Korine. After exploding onto the film scene with his screenplay for "Kids" (written when he was only 22), Korine made his directorial debut two years later with "Gummo," an impressionistic film based on what Korine saw while living in an Appalachia-like small town in the backwoods of Ohio. Apparently he saw a lot there that horrified him, and he brings that horror to you in the most raw, unfiltered way possible.

Throughout the film, I found myself saying, "Harmony Korine is the poet of chaos." There's never been anyone like him, and I suspect there never will be another.

"Gummo" contains a lot of what appears to be documentary footage taken in and around the town of Xenia, Ohio. Interspersed with this are scenes with actors who play the townsfolk. In most cases, Korine appears to use non-professional actors, plus Chloe Sevigny, who has a small but indelible part. Sevigny at the time had not yet become an established actress, having just appeared in "Kids," her debut film. Now of course she's gone onto major acting roles, such as on HBO's "Big Love." For "Gummo," she dyed her hair and eyebrows platinum blonde, and the effect is mesmerizing and frightening. Also unforgettable is the scene where she appears topless with black electrical tape on her nipples, a la Wendy O. Williams.

But the film is mostly focused on the troubled boys of the town, who go around torturing cats and each other. Korine trains his freakshow gaze also on the many people of the town who are semi-retarded. It becomes hard to define retarded (by which I mean mentally disabled in the clinical sense) when so many of the intellectually normal townspeople appear to have chosen to remain at the mental level of a retarded person. Korine appears to be very interested in this social phenomenon, as I have been in my own life. I call it the bizarre phenomenon of voluntary retardation.

Korine blurs the line between the clinically and voluntarily retarded in a disturbing way by including some footage of disabled people. Especially shocking is the footage of a woman who appears to have Down Syndrome playing a garishly made-up prostitute who is pimped out to the local teenage boys by her brother. That is the one scene in the film that brought tears to my eyes.

Anyone from a lower-class background (such as I) will recognize many of the faces and imagery here. Finally an artist has come along who stares into the face of lower-class horror and doesn't look away.

There are substantial weaknesses in the film, however, particularly in the direction of the boys who play the biggest roles. First is the young boy with the weird hairdo who is pictured in the movie poster; the other is his older sidekick. These inseparable boys are played by semi-trained actors who appear to have no idea what they are doing or what the film is trying to say. They walk around awkwardly, seemingly saying to themselves, "Why does this wacky director force me to wear this ridiculous hairdo?" Nothing they do seems authentic. Either Korine intentionally worked this awkwardness into the film for a distancing effect, to archly differentiate it from the more documentary-like footage, or he just did not know what he was doing with these actors. I tend to think it was the latter.

Also problematic is Korine's relentlessly negative view. As troubled as the under-class is, it is not 100% screwed up. Korine's view is so skewed toward the negative that at times it seems polemical and limited. In my mind, the hallmark of a great artist is a holistic view. Korine may be capable of that, but he does not exhibit it here. (He does exhibit it in his 2008 near-masterpiece "Mister Lonely," where he has the guts to show love.)

There is no doubt, though, that "Gummo" more brilliantly captures the horrific aspects of the impoverished rural under-class than anything that ever came before it. Highly recommended for fans of true art who have a strong stomach for nihilism.
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2009
How can American society be so stupid and degradated?


The movie itself is not bad, the first scene is "artistic cool", but its nothing but a waste of time.
Another independent American film. Another movie to shock. Chloe Sevigny and her typical roles.

*Im not missing the whole point as some people can say. I am only tired of these "innovative, rare, amazing" films.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2009
A pointless, depressing and vile piece of crap. There are no characters to feel anything for, other than hate. The film is just tasteless in a very tacky way, but it seems to think it is saying something. There's no plot, there's no relevance. It's a string of random scenes, where everybody acts weird to disguise just how bad the film is. Korine completely misses the mark with this arrogant and annoying film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2007
Intriguing beginning and end, but nothing of much interest happens in between. Not to say there aren't interesting characters (there are); they just don't really do anything. That is, I wanted something to laugh or cry about it but got neither (perhaps, I'm an emotionless psychopath).

They could've done a hell of a lot more with the rabbit character; I rather enjoyed his parts. And the editing, too. It really captured the family home-video feel. On the other hand, the music, while perhaps necessary, rather irritated me.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2008
I tell you true, I could not take my eyes off this film. I'm not sure what exactly that means in terms of me, but it is an ugly movie from start to finish. The ugliness, from mistreatment of animals, to mistreatment of persons with disabilities, to mistreatment of people in general runs the gamut from just disgusting to 100% disgusting. But I could not stop watching it. This is no loving tribute to middle-America, not by a long shot. And the casting call must have been exhaustive in order to find such odd looking actors to play such screwed up idlers and miscreants. It's kind of like Wrong Turn or Deliverance brought to a real-world town near you. See the kid on the DVD cover, for instance? No offense -- I'm sure he's a handsome enough little lad in real life -- but just picture him with a banjo and you'll know what I mean. What with the tornado, I'd be tempted to think along post-apocalyptic lines, but you just know they were all like this long before the tornado. Nope, Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore. You're not in Oz either. Unfortunately -- believe it or not -- you're in 1990s' Ohio . . . Still, I couldn't take my eyes off this . . . . I guess I am just one sick SOB . . .
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2008
Jeeze. This movie is pretty effed up. It's like the young kids perspective of Vernon, Florida. White trash are frightening, and I think the scene in this movie where the kid eats spaghetti and wet chocolate in the bath is one of the most disgusting things i've ever seen in my life. Pretty good though, if you don't mind seeing lots of cats get killed.
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2008
I watched this at the recommendation of my Flickster friends, because I really like Chloe Sevigny and because the cover art has always intrigued me.

I have to be honest...I'm not sure how I feel about this one? And I'm a big fan of "quirky", which this film definitely is.

Part of me really enjoyed the visually sporadic "fly on the wall" feel that it has, while part of me feels like at least a slight narrative would have been nice.

Part of me felt like I was watching someone's (mostly well filmed) sometimes awkwardly personal home movies, while at other times I felt like things that were being done and said were a bit too contrived to be even feign realism.

I almost feel like trying to tie it all together by saying it's "a town living in the aftermath of a tornado" almost weakens the experience of the film as it really has no bearing on what follows and leads you to look for some sort of narrative which isn't there.

I think if it would have been approached as simply a look at "poor white trash" in "any small town U.S.A.", it would have been a much more powerful experience.
Super Reviewer
½ December 1, 2006
Innevitable to watch, but hardly something i would like to re-visit in the future. Like the equivalent of a bunch of youtube videos mixed with "Freaks".
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2007
I have seen some strange things, but Gummo really takes the cake. This is a film that has no plot, simply following the lives of redneck children, as they kill cats to sell to the butcher, use duct tape to make their nipples bigger, and play the accordion while on the toilet. Somehow this film has gained a cult following and there are some people out there who will tell you they love this film. I can see how some of the scenes could be funny, but as a film, Gummo is nothing but one big stereotype, that doesn't follow any kind of storyline at all. Even more bizarre than the film, is the cast of kids, who seemingly came from nowhere. Jacob Sewell plays the bunny boy and literally walks around the entire time with nothing on but a pair of shorts and a pair of pink bunny ears, hardly saying a word. The other main actor is Nick Sutton, who has got to be the strangest looking person I've ever seen. He at least has some lines, but I really could have done without seeing the 13 year old actor getting a bath from his mother, while scarfing down food in the bathtub. Honestly, I don't know how a studio even agrees to make something like this. To me, Gummo has no artistic value whatsoever, and I suspect one would have to be on drugs to fully comprehend everything that is going on. Some weirdness comes off well for it's artistic value, but even those films have some kind of a plot that you can follow, Gummo has none of that and really offers very little that anyone can follow or even relate to.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2012
*** out of ****

Harmony Korine has been hit with some pretty harsh criticism ever since he wrote "Kids" for Larry Clark, who directed it. It doesn't help that his debut as a filmmaker, "Gummo", was met with even more polarized reactions from movie-goers and critics everywhere. Most people think Korine is simply a madman with a camera; intent on shocking us and nothing more. Then, there are others; who believe his films possess a more emotional core. After seeing "Gummo", I can safely say that, for now, I'm on the side of the second group of (mentioned) people; there seems to be more at work here than just a scrapbook of pure shock value.

In fact, I'm going to come right out and say it; I liked Harmony Korine's "Gummo". I did some research on the filmmaker before pursuing any of his cinematic offerings; and I feel that this film is nothing more than an honest representation and approximation of the man's trippy, weird imagination. It's a difficult film to like, but you know where I'm coming from; it's also a difficult film to simply dismiss. Yes, it has all the necessities of a glorified exploitation film, and that may be all it is, to most people. But to me, there's a deeper human understanding; if only in specific scenes. But then again, "Gummo" is a film that imitates life; in the sense that it is made up of little scenes that tend to have little connection to one another. It's different, but in my opinion, it's also a little bit special.

Xenia, Ohio was struck by a disastrous tornado in the year of 1974 that destroyed many lives and many homes. Korine's central story exists purely in fantasy; in his world, the town never recovered. The tornado left behind countless oddballs, borderline-psychopaths, junkies, drunkards, and sexual deviants. Just about every character would feel out of place in the world that we live in today; but I imagine that's one of the many reasons why Korine decided to make the film in the first place.

For most of the movie, we follow Solomon (Jacob Reynolds) and his badass buddy Tummler (Nick Sutton). The scene that begins the film's central narrative is enough to provoke a few faint-hearted folks to exit the room or theater and walk far, far away; it involves the drowning of cats. What's the purpose of this? We learn shortly after that Solomon and Tummler have been selling the dead carcasses of these poor animals to the local butcher in exchange for money; yes, they are THAT desperate.

What follows is a series of random, often unconnected and irrelevant events involving the other residents of the town. There's two blonde-haired sisters (one played by Chloe Sevigny); a strange kid wearing only bathing suit trunks, tennis shoes, and bunny ears to cover his head; a brief vignette involving a particularly romantic albino; and a young woman with Down syndrome whose brother is pimping her in exchange for extra cash.

I recognize that this is a crazy, bizarre, disturbing, unnerving, perhaps even pointlessly shocking movie; but to me, it was never a boring one, and that counts for something in my book. There aren't many films that I've seen, in which the filmmaker behind the material decided it was time for something completely different and ended up boring me to tears; I often have deep, unending sympathy for the ambitious. In a whole, Korine's first film isn't even THAT ambitious; not in his eyes, and not in mine. It's a view of the world through his twisted, fragmented eyes; and there are as many odd moments as there are surprisingly moving and humane ones. Consider a scene in which an intoxicated loner (played by Korine) pulls some moves on an openly gay midget. I liked that scene a lot; and there isn't much more that I can say about it.

Another scene that really stood out for me came towards the end; the somewhat famed bathtub scene. Praised by Werner Herzog for the bacon taped to the walls surrounding the tubs; the scene, or vignette as one should probably say, depicts Solomon bathing in filthy water as his mother brings him dinner and eventually dessert, and also washes his hair with shampoo. There's something oddly beautiful and perhaps even symbolic/metaphorical about the film; and I'd be happy to dissect it one of these days. "Gummo" is a film that I will gladly watch again sometime because of its many moments of beauty; I was simply unable to resist it. On the contrary, I cannot say that I recommend it, for I fear most people will find it utterly and helplessly pointless in what it does (whatever that is, right!). However, there's always a chance that you might get as absorbed in Korine's imperfect, dangerous world just like I did; and once you're in, there's no getting out. "Gummo" is, more or less, truly provocative.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2006
"Life is beautiful. Really, it is. Full of beauty and illusions. Life is great. Without it, you'd be dead."
Hypnotizing, offbeat beauty is interwoven with disturbing imagery in Harmony Korine's directorial debut. In all of its pseudo-dreamlike weirdness Gummo carries the aura of an intensely personal piece. That is what I believe makes it a compelling and maybe even great film. Completely disregarding structure, Korine's series of vignettes imbeds us in a painful and haunting environment throughout the duration of its runtime. Strong use of music and visuals make this an unforgettable experience, and it makes us feel things in a way that movies rarely do.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2011
I wouldn't want to have this neighbourhood, bizarre and surrealistic
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