Napoleon Dynamite really opened up the floodgates for independent comedies that feature awkward teenagers and their extremely dysfunctional families. In this comedy/drama, Lou Pucci plays a teen whose constant thumb sucking irritates his parents (Vincent D’Onofrio and Tilda Swinton) and causes problems with his would-be girlfriend (Kellie Garner). His hippie orthodontist (Keanu Reeves) hypnotizes him into stop sucking his thumb, which causes more problems for him. When his debate team teacher (Vince Vaughn) recommends putting him on Ritalin, he becomes “a monster” and alienates even more people.
This flick is like the myriad other indie comedies aimed at teen audiences that have come out in the past couple years or so. It says basically the same thing they all say (it’s no fun being a teenager, it’s okay to be different, grow-ups don’t have all the answers, etc.), just not as well. As with most of these movies, the film is lousy with incessantly weak folksy college radio music, most of which is courtesy of The Polyphonic Spree.
You’ve seen it all before, and done better, but what makes the flick worth a rent is the stellar supporting cast. D’Onofrio and Swinton are great as Pucci’s parents who try so hard to be his friend (they make him call them by their first names) that they forget to actually parent him. Reeves is pretty hilarious and is even more Zen here than he was in The Matrix movies, but it’s Vaughn who gets the best line of the movie: “This is not Agree Club, this is Debate Club!”