The Chumscrubber

Critics Consensus

This derivative poke at suburbia falls short of delivering a scathing indictment of upper middle-class disconnect.



Total Count: 60


Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,521
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The Chumscrubber Photos

Movie Info

The death of a troubled teen throws a suburban neighborhood into chaos in this darkly satirical comedy. Dean (Jamie Bell) is a disaffected teenager living in a California suburb that's beautiful on the surface but populated by families who live emotionally vacant lives, with the parents often too wrapped up in their own problems to pay attention to their children. One day, Dean discovers his best (and only) friend, Troy (Josh Janowicz), has killed himself. While Troy's mother (Glenn Close) hasn't figured out her son is dead just yet, Dean opts not to tell her, and besides, his own parents (William Fichtner and Allison Janney) don't appear very concerned. Dean, however, does have reason to worry -- Billy (Justin Chatwin), Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci), and Crystal (Camilla Belle) are three bullies who used to buy drugs from Troy, and they want Dean find Troy's remaining stash and give it to them. When Dean refuses to cooperate, the bullies decide to get tough and kidnap Dean's little brother; however, they end up taking the wrong child and Dean grudging finds himself trying to rescue a child he doesn't know. Meanwhile, as the adults in the neighborhood begin to emotionally implode, "the Chumscrubber" becomes a common presence in town -- a comic book and video game character represented by a decapitated post-apocalyptic teenager who has become an unavoidable pop-culture icon. The Chumscrubber also features Ralph Fiennes, Carrie-Anne Moss, John Heard, and Rita Wilson.

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Jamie Bell
as Dean Stiffle
Camilla Belle
as Crystal Falls
Glenn Close
as Mrs. Johnson
Ralph Fiennes
as Mayor Michael Ebbs
John Heard
as Officer Lou Bratley
Allison Janney
as Mrs. Stiffle
William Fichtner
as Dr. Bill Stiffle
Rita Wilson
as Terri Bratley
Carrie-Anne Moss
as Jerri Falls
Thomas Curtis
as Charlie Bratley
Lauren Holly
as Boutique Owner
Jason Isaacs
as Mr. Parker
Rory Culkin
as Charlie Stiffle
Clam Davis
as Billy's Brother
Tim DeKay
as Mr. Peck
Richard Gleason
as Mr. Sikes
Caroline Goodall
as Mrs. Parker
Gus Lynch
as Accident Witness
Jeff Parise
as Mayor's Aid
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News & Interviews for The Chumscrubber

Critic Reviews for The Chumscrubber

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (11)

  • It's a surreal, offbeat comedy where the kidnappers are hopelessly inept while Bell feels hopelessly at sea.

    Jun 8, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Much like its characters: decorative, entertaining and emotionally empty.

    Jun 7, 2007 | Full Review…

    Anna Smith

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Posin aims for are out of his reach and he's left to scrabble desperately for a story to plug in the gaps.

    May 26, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • An impassioned and occasionally mesmerizing first effort that's at once messier, more complex and more ambitious than many recent suburban dystopias.

    Nov 10, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The story of the film: Studio money chasing after the cult-film audience and getting all the superficial elements right while missing the spirit entirely. It's the cinematic equivalent of Candlebox.

    Sep 26, 2005

    Keith Phipps

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • An appallingly clumsy and stupid take on drugs, kidnapping and suicide in suburbia.

    Sep 9, 2005 | Rating: 1/4

Audience Reviews for The Chumscrubber

  • Jun 22, 2011
    In suburbia, a teen who recently discovered the dead body of his best friend must recover the dead kid's drugs before his classmates kill a kidnapped boy. I was reminded of <i>Alpha Dog</i> when the victim of a drug-related kidnapping rather enjoys the experience compared to the stifled restrictions of suburbia, but there is more going on here, and nothing about the drug-dealing lifestyle is glorified. The film's message, condemning the self-absorbed nature of the suburban parents and seeing the kids growing up too fast, encountering issues way beyond their age group, is entirely clear. However, the film's tone is uneven. Often I thought that there were two conflicting styles at play: the parents were in a scathing satire, with Mrs. Johnson's repeated "I in no way blame you for Troy's death" and Michael's vacant-eyed dalliances, and the kids were in a teen drama in the vein of <i>Havoc</i>. This juxtaposition works sometimes, but most of the time I was left wondering if these styles would ever converge; they do eventually, but it's too late and too little. Overall, I'm sympathetic to the film's argument, and I think much of it is well-done, but there
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2010
    Along the style of a Donnie Darko.... I enjoyed this movie just because it is different than the regurgitated Adam Sadler crap that is always out there! Jamie Bell is a fine actor. Ralph Fiennes could have just stayed home, his character in no way added anything to the movie for me.
    Thomas J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2010
    While I appreciated the overall purpose/message of the story, I felt the movie was put together rather poorly. The characters were over-worked and hard to like, the plot was holey, and the cinematography was less than fabulous. In other words, this is one of those movies that could've been great but ended up rather mediocre.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2010
    Indie comedy drama about the weirdness of small suburban towns. This one in particular becomes weirder than normal when schoolboy Deans best friend, and school drug supplier, Troy commits suicide, drying up the drug chain. Trouble is, Dean hasn't told any of the adults about Troys suicide, knowing that they're far to wrapped up in their own lives to care about anything/one else so he finds himself in a spot of bother when a local gang tell Dean to supply the drugs from now on, something Dean has no idea about, so when he refuses, the gang kidknap who they believe is Deans brother, potentially causing a shitstorm for everybody. If the grown ups bother to take notice that is. This has a great cast including acting veterans Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes and Willian Finchner(not sure if thats his proper name, you know who i mean!) alongside relative newcomers Jamie Bell, Lou Taylor Pucci, Rory Culkin and the stunning Camilla Belle, who i've never seen in a film before but will definately be looking out for, who all give great performances. This is quite a strange one, i guess you could say its what would happen if David Lynch tried to make a normal suburban comedy! Entertaining and cool, nonetheless.
    Adam M Super Reviewer

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