So the other night I had two choices, watch Crash, Paul Haggis’ extreme and perpetually woeful social commentary, happy to incite nothing more than white guilt, or The Chumscrubber, a movie that has been on my list of movies to watch for years. Who knew both could leave me feeling equally as masochistic for watching till the end?
Essentially, the story kicks off after Troy (Joshua Janowicz), a local prescription drug deal hangs himself. Without his supply to keep the local teen population in their sedated state, Crystal (Camilla Belle), Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci) and their ringleader Billy (Justin Chatwin) take it upon themselves to blackmail his “best friend” Dean (Jamie Bell) into delivering his stash by kidnapping his brother; the problem being, they kidnap the wrong kid. From here, every minute is simply prolonging the agony.
Within thirty minutes, we are already overloaded with plot and nothing about the characters, the director (Arie Posin) apparently more than happy to boil the central premise down to conceits and stereotypes amped up to the Nth degree. Posin’s confidence is admirable, as movies like American Beauty, Donnie Darko and others have all dealt with themes revolving around misunderstood teens or parents who are incapable of seeing what’s before them but they do so with a flare and irony that runs deep, accentuating dryly acerbic writing, a skill he does not have. Both the plot and characters are as inorganic and wooden as the other, starting with immediacy before fizzling out almost entirely, kept alive by a sadistic will to inflict caricatures of vapid excess upon us all.
“Something is happening” says Ralph Fienne’s Mayor before spending a large portion of the movie talking about a driving force for everything; evidently of the cruel Old Testament variety.
Minute after minute drags by with little or nothing happening and when Posin finally feels compelled to drive the story forward, it has no point or evident interest in sticking to the myriad of themes and images he sets up in the very beginning. Drugs, kidnapping, even the inexplicable repetition of dolphins are left entirely impotent. His only discernible goal, to illustrate parents driven by self-interest and a complete lack of parental bonds, however these same kids are incapable of articulating the apparent anger they feel for their primogenitors, this going too far beyond simple caricature and outside of the movie’s scope. This same parody, also acts as a safety net from reality with which the writer/director can catapult mind-numbing character arcs that would never have any logical basis. Social commentary becomes secondary to inflicting pain on the cast and viewer alike.
A complete and utter vanity project, nothing of value is said or done within this decaying, corpulent body of the piece. You’d be better off removing your finger nails with a set of pliers for fun.