In review: The Chumscrubber

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It seems as though ever since “American Beauty” won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Picture that commenting on postcard-perfect neighborhoods is a trendy filmmaking thing to do. As with any trend, very few ever come close to duplicating the original that sparked the movement, and very few even go as far as to put an inventive spin on the original’s formula.

Perhaps that is why, when watching the extremely satirical “The Chumscrubber,” its over-the-top antics and dark humor manage to enhance it overall. They aren’t the main attraction as so many films like it try to accomplish, but they are there to simply compliment the innovative things the movie brings to the table.

All of this has to be carried out though with the help of the film’s cast. Luckily, the low-budget film doesn’t shy away from using an ensemble cast of recognizable names to deliver great performances that only aid in drawing the viewer in. But props mostly go to relatively unknown Jamie Bell, who plays the film’s main character Dean.

Dean discovers the dead body of his best friend and doesn’t bother to tell anyone. He comes to the assumption that no one would care one way or another, making reporting the death pointless. Eventually the body is discovered, but things don’t go exactly as one may expect.

Instead of receiving substantial flack and questioning from his parents and the friend’s parents, he gets most of the heat from his fellow high school classmates. This leads to him getting bullied by those who never received their illegal drugs from the friend and want him to find the drugs in the dead friend’s room. When he can’t find them, a kidnapping occurs, forcing Dean to face the ramifications of his friend’s death – something he thought he could avoid.

Along with this rather interesting plot is the previously mentioned satirical humor. The film seems to evoke some of the same feelings films like “Happiness” created in their viewers, only “The Chumscrubber” doesn’t lay it on that thick or to the point where it will easily offend. The film seems to recognize that there’s no point in commenting on anything if the audience isn’t willing to listen. This makes for a fun movie full of interesting little spins on the typical commentary on the white-picket-fence America.

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