Lou Taylor Pucci stars in writer/director Mike Mills’ adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel about a nervous high school student afflicted with thumbsucking. Once he’s prescribed ritalin, Pucci’s character starts to feel more confident. Unfortunately, the drug also turns him into an asshole. If Thumbsucker focused more on the angle of drug abuse, it might better distinguish itself from the myriad of other quirky indie movies that hit cinemas in the late 90s and 00s. But it focuses more on the usual rigmarole of coming-of-age stories — first love, fights with parents, applying to college, and leaving home.
The main character’s relationship with his parents (Tilda Swinton and Vincent D’Onofrio) is the most interesting part of the movie. Their characters seem just as confused and aimless as their son. But nothing resolves in any meaningful way for me in this movie. For a film that feels so forcefully quirky, complete with a hippie-dippy score and the casting of Keanu Reeves as a philosophizing dentist, everything resolves in a painfully conventional manner. With Vince Vaughn, Benjamin Bratt, and Kelli Garner.