Terri (2011)

Director: Azazel Jacobs

Writer: Patrick Dewitt

One of those extremely awkward and honest coming of age movies that is way to uncomfortable in some scenes to really break out into the mainstream but I found the movie to be pretty interesting and different and have some really refreshing things to say.  

Jacob Wysocki plays the title character, an overweight high schooler who prefers wearing pajamas to school every day to school.  He of course is picked on because of his size and he also has a difficult home life.  He doesn’t know where his parents are and he lives with his Uncle who is struggling with dementia.  Terri is an outcast because of his looks and he bonds with an attractive girl who is an outcast because she let a boy finger her in home ec.

The movie has a lot of uncomfortable but really real feeling honesty.  The scene that stuck with me was between Terri and his High School principal Mr. Fitzgerald played by John C. Reilly.  In it Mr. Fitzgerald is trying to explain that people don’t have the answers and that “life’s a mess but we’re all just doing the best we can”.  That line itself is in the trailer and it seems very cutsey but in context of the larger scene in the movie it punctuated a really interesting story about what people actually want versus what the must act like they want to others.  I won’t spoil the whole scene, and of course the movie will illustrate the point more eloquently than I, but it was the one scene overall I would point to as to what makes it a little bit above other teen angst coming of age movies that are just pretending.  Some movies in this particular sub genre feel like they were made by people who forgot what it felt like to be in High School.  Or they were made by people who wrote it based on watching other coming of age High School movies.  But Terri feels like it was made by people with a really observant and unflinching eye.  

The main issue with the movie I can see happening is people’s expectations based upon the marketing but this of course isn’t the movies fault.  John C. Reilly turns in a really good understated supporting performance.  This is not a Judd Apatow/Will Ferrell type joint and the focus is definitely on Jacob Wysocki’s Terri.  This seems to be his first big movie role and I hope that we get to see more of him.

When Terri first ended I didn’t really know what to make of it but about five days later it still stuck with me for its performances and its emotional truth.  It won’t change the world but of course every movie doesn’t need to do that.  A little more of a drama than the marketing might suggest, I think it is definitely one worth checking out.

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About Jon Watches Movies

Watching a movie a day since January 1, 2011.
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