"Thumbsucker" is similar to the previously reviewed "Chumscrubber" in that it's an independent dramedy with a strong ensemble cast. A quirky coming of age story of a teenage boy and the prescription drugs society makes him take. Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Kirn, the film was also released in 2005 and did quite better with critics than "The Chumscrubber".
Lou Taylor Pucci plays Justin Cobb a shy but very real seventeen-year-old. When the anxieties and pressures of being a teenager get to be too much he resorts to sucking his thumb. His mother Audrey is played by the always great Tilda Swinton, a nurse who has a crush on a T.V. show cop Matt Schramm (Benjamin Bratt). His father Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio) is a former high school football star whose severe injury prevented him from going pro. He is emotionally closed off to Justin and cannot overcome his own hang-ups. Rounding out our supporting cast is Mr. Geary (Vince Vaughn) the debate club teacher and Perry Lyman (Keanu Reeves) an unconventional orthodontist looking for "something" in his own life. All of the characters seem to be looking for something, going through a sort of existential crisis.
During an orthodontic appointment, Perry can see the physical damage that the thumb sucking is
causing Justin. He offers a solution with a little hypnosis and Justin is game for just about anything. His parents also take him to see a doctor and are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and prescribed Adderall. Since drugs are always the answer he starts taking them and before long his life is changed, but is it for the better? He begins to excel at the debate team competitions and his self-confidence soars. Although this new found confidence goes a little too far and he is turned into this arrogant douche with little regard for anybody other than himself. He gets into mischief and in trouble with the law. He manipulates Mr. Geary at the state debate meet. Angry with himself he stops taking the pills and reacquaints himself with his friend Rebecca who has also changed. Just when as he thinks things are going a little too good he is blindsided by her and it stings. Justin is a sensitive and caring guy although a little naive he is still a strong person. He will not be deterred from his goals like getting into NYU.
"Thumbsucker" is very honest with its characters and the acting performance further enforce this. At times heartbreaking, quirky, and funny you can't help but feel for Justin and remember similar times in your own life. Everybody looks for safety and security in this world and sometimes it manifests itself in strange ways like sucking your thumb.