Pros: Well-written and acted
Cons: Not as unique as one may think at first
Chumscrubber is an entertaining film along the lines of Tadpole or Igby Goes Down with a touch of Desperate Housewives and Donnie Darko in which the worlds of teenagers and that of their parents seem to be separated to a point where they seem to live next to rather than with each other.
In some California Stepford-type suburbia, a teenager named Troy supplies all the other kids at school with feel-good pills until one day, he commits suicide. His body is discovered by Dean who doesn't really have any other friends asides from the now-dead Troy and at first, he can't even bring himself to tell anyone about his discovery.
Deans father is a shrink and a book writer and his heart to heart talks with his son about how he feels about his friends suicide seem mostly geared toward getting new writing material for his next book and end with Dean's father supplying him with another load of prescription drugs. Throughout the movie it becomes clear that dad's perfect solutions to everyone's problem don't always really work all that well. On the other side, Dean's mother has a thriving business with herbal supplements. The dad mostly puts people out of their minds, rather than helping them.
Unfortunately, Troy being the main supplier of drugs, the other kids at school now are left a little unsettled and three of them, Billy, Lee and Crystal, start bullying Dean into getting the drug supplies from Troys house. When at first he doesn't respond to Crystal's sweet-talk, the three decide to kidnap Dean's brother to put some pressure on him. Unfortunately, they grab the wrong kid - the son of a local cop who is so obsessed with his ex that he stalks her and her new fiance the mayor (Ralph Fiennes), in their preparations for their upcoming wedding.
Glen Close plays Troys mother, Mrs. Johnson, and she has a great part to put another psycho performance into: she makes sure she visits everyone in the neighborhood to let them know that she "in no way, shape or form" blames them for her son's death. She makes sure she reminds Dean's mother that she hadn't been to the funeral by bringing back a casserole dish that doesn't belong to Dean's mother, pointing out how "nice it was" that she'd come to the funeral.
All of the actors in this film played their parts very well and the dialog is well-written and there is enough oddity and freshness to the story to keep the film interesting even if the idea overall has been done before: Everybodys in his own world.
Charlie, the kid snatched up by the three teenager, is gone for days without his mother even noticing because she is too busy getting ready for her wedding which is beginning to turn into the rival social event to Troy's wake on the same day. Whenever either of the kidnappers tells their parents that they kidnapped Charlie as they parade him around their family's homes, the parents find the story amusing or just odd, and go on with their routines.
A few things that struck me as odd are the fact that these three kids who pine for the drugs are incredibly tame and average - they just don't really bring across the feeling that they are so hooked on drugs that they are trying to force Dean to steal the drug stash for them. Another problem is that these three really don't have a right to Troy's stash, yet they act as if the drugs had been their personal property.
Neither of them was friends with Troy, yet they apparently know exactly how much stuff he's had at his home at the time and to suddenly get into kidnapping seems terribly out of character for the three of them, too.
Overall, the kidnapping is pretty tame, too; they ask a kid if he's Charlie and, when he says yes, they invite him to follow them home and he does. He could leave anytime he wanted to, but just continues to hang around until the end of the film when the two boys suddenly become violent.
The tongue-in-cheek perfect home life in the suburbs with the total separation of kids and their parents is fun, though and the ending of the film ups the drama and solves all the storylines nicely, so even if there are a few bumps in the road as far as continuity of characters is concerned, it is still very entertaining.
The film has a great cast, including Ralph Fiennes and Glenn Close, William Fichtner, John Heard, Lauren Holly, Jason Isaacs, Rita Wilson, Rory Culkin, and many others, most of whom the viewers will recognize from one film or another.
Chumscrubber refers to a video game/television character who survived Armageddon to fight off the zombies in suburbia, using his severed head. There's probably a world of comparisons one could draw to the youths in this movie, but the Chumscrubber isn't really featured enough to know much about it unless one is familiar with that character.