- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © ATO Films
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he last thing the world needed was yet another quirky coming-of-age film, especially one as dull and disjointed as “Terri.” It’s actually a little hard to believe that the movie was so well-received at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, because there isn't anything about it that’s particularly engaging or funny. Though the involvement of John C. Reilly does add some class to the film, “Terri” is still a mostly lackluster viewing experience – one that asks you to give a damn about characters that have absolutely no redeeming qualities at all.
Jacob Wysocki stars as the title character, a socially awkward and overweight teenage loner who lives with his ailing uncle (Creed Barton) in a rundown house in the woods. Teased at school for his obesity and tendency to wear pajamas to class, Terri finds an unlikely friend and role model in his principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (Reilly), who takes an interest in the troubled teen after he lands in his office for persistent tardiness. But when Terri learns that Fitzgerald has been having similar meetings with the school’s other misfits, he feels betrayed, believing that receiving such special treatment only makes it harder to fit in.
Though “Terri” has been classified as a comedy, there’s nothing very comical about it. In fact, it’s actually a pretty serious drama – one that has some really dark undertones when you consider that the only moments of happiness that Terri has in the film involve killing mice and attending the funeral of the school’s elderly receptionist. Director Azazel Jacobs would like the audience to believe that Terri acts the way he does because he’s had a hard life, but there isn't anything in the movie that suggests it’s as bad as he leads you to believe. Jacob Wysocki’s one-note performance certainly doesn’t make the character any easier to relate to, and it’s a big reason why the film is lacking in emotion.
That may be a little unfair to Wysocki, because the character appears to be written as stiff as he plays him. But if that’s the case, then writer Patrick Dewitt is even more to blame, since the script is already the cause of many of the film's problems. Along with its agonizingly slow runtime, “Terri” just doesn't have much of anything to say. There’s no real character arc to speak of, and although John C. Reilly’s scenes with Wysocki are enjoyable diversions, it’s simply not enough to consider a complete movie. And without a solid story to invest in, “Terri” feels like just another indie film that you’re supposed to like because everyone tells you to. Maybe it’s time we bucked that trend.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
As expected, the Blu-ray release of "Terri" doesn't offer much in the special features department, but there is a short making-of featurette and some deleted scenes for those who put stock into that sort of stuff. It's a nice gesture, but not really necessary.