The Chumscrubber (2005)



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

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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.
R (for language, violent content, drug material and some sexuality)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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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
David Ellison
as Student
Richard Gleason
as Mr. Sikes
Caroline Goodall
as Mrs. Parker
Susan Hegarty
as Aide 2
Eric Jungmann
as Student
Gus Lynch
as Accident Witness
Jeff Parise
as Mayor's Aid
Max Van Ville
as Student
Kathi Copeland
as Parent 1
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News & Interviews for The Chumscrubber

Critic Reviews for The Chumscrubber

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (10)

Much like its characters: decorative, entertaining and emotionally empty.

Full Review… | June 6, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

An impassioned and occasionally mesmerizing first effort that's at once messier, more complex and more ambitious than many recent suburban dystopias.

Full Review… | November 10, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

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.

September 25, 2005
AV Club
Top Critic

An appallingly clumsy and stupid take on drugs, kidnapping and suicide in suburbia.

September 9, 2005
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

There are some very good performances and some strong writing.

August 8, 2005
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

It's neither funny nor sad, and it's filled with cheats, phony come-ons and red herrings.

August 5, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

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

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