Gummo

1997

Gummo

Critics Consensus

Gummo's bold provocations may impress more iconoclastically inclined viewers, but others will find it hard to see past writer-director Harmony Korine's overwhelmingly sour storytelling perspective.

35%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 54

73%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,218
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Movie Info

Some time after a devastating tornado has leveled their town, a group of eclectic, ennui-stricken teenagers in Xenia, Ohio pass their days by riding their bikes, playing practical jokes, sniffing glue and paying for sex with a friend's sister.

Cast

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Critic Reviews for Gummo

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (17)

  • Like a kid acting up for attention, the wise-ass Korine wants desperately to be in your face - to offend and provoke. And he does a damn good job getting his way. If for no other reason, "Gummo" deserves to be seen.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Full Review…
  • After his persuasively disturbing screenplay for Larry Clark's Kids, Harmony Korine 's Gummo comes as a disappointment.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The unyielding and uncomfortable manner in which Gummo grapples with human diversity has also allowed it to linger long in the memory.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Is the perspective of youth in this country really so devoid of significance, and their existence so septic? These are good questions, although "Gummo" provides neither answer nor solution, nor even thematic cohesion.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The point of all this nihilism and grotesqueness? You got me.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…
  • Take away the shock value, and there isn't much there: just a stylistically promising student film peddling bargain-basement surreal nihilism that, stretched over 90 minutes, grows awfully tedious.

    Jan 7, 2019 | Full Review…

    Keith Phipps

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Gummo

  • Aug 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 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.
    Jack H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2012
    A Very Sick and dirty movie. 1/2 star
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 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.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer

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