The Chumscrubber

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 60

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,523


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.5/5

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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

A high school student is blackmailed into recovering a stash of drugs from his dead friend's house by the school bully who kidnaps an innocent boy for leverage. The plot of The Chumscrubber is basically an "indie" version of Alpha Dog, and the whole thing comes across as a patchwork of ideas stolen from American Beauty, Heathers and Donnie Darko. But the biggest problem with it is the fact that not one of the characters is even remotely likeable. They're just a bunch of self absorbed jerks who have zero interest in anyone but themselves and it's impossible to give a crap about any of them. Even Jamie Bell, who is supposed to be the "hero" is just a smug, dour little prick who you just want to slap. There's some kind of message in here about reliance on quickie solutions to life's problems like self help or pill popping, and the scene between Bell and Close at the end does have some of the heart missing from the whole of the rest of the film. But it makes no coherent points on the subject matter and the whole thing is just a derivative, unfunny and slightly tedious shambles that pales in comparison to ALL of the films it rips off.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


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 Alpha Dog 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 Havoc. 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 Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


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 Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

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.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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