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Terri


Films that cover misfits finding solace in one another to ultimately raise their self-esteem often include fantastical events not pertaining to real life. Also, the “misfits” are twenty-five-year-olds and their characters would generally be considered normal, unassuming teenagers. Terri breaks the mold by sticking to reality and casting (mostly) actors of appropriate age, but can’t escape the potential for normalcy in the main character.

Grade:

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight fifteen-year-old, who is bullied to the point of being completely indifferent towards even showing up for school. His home life is not much better as he lives with Uncle James (Creed Bratton, The Office US), who suffers from the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s – it isn’t explicitly stated. As Terri becomes more and more apathetic, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), the assistant principal, makes an effort to meet with Terri and ensure he is surviving these troubling years with high spirits.

Terri may be overweight and he may be shy, but with one simple spark of confidence he could become the most popular kid in school – granted it would be as “the fat kid”, but nonetheless. Terri’s bullies are not severe. Sure, they poke mild fun at him and make him sensitive about his weight and the fact that he only wears pajamas, but if Terri decided to own it, like he does briefly in an effort to help Heather (Olivia Crocicchia), then his high school years would be much easier. Instead, he wallows in a semi-self pity preventing him from enjoying the few friends he actually has. It is a minor flaw, I admit, but one that I noticed from the beginning that changed the framework of the film.

The name of the game with Terri is realism. Nothing occurs that wouldn’t happen to you or me, which is why Terri’s personality bothered me. His friends, Chad (Bridger Zadina) and Mr. Fitzgerald, are real people trying to do their best in their own worlds, so when he shuts them out, it doesn’t make sense.

Terri does have moments of dark humor mixed with truly unsettling scenes that keep you engaged during the lull periods. Since there is so much time spent on Terri, a somewhat boring, though intriguing character, director/writer Azazel Jacobs instills random moments here and there that capture your attention as either heartwarming or stomach turning. For instance, at a funeral the priest loses his place during the eulogy, so simply walks away without a word. Yet, moments later, we are watching fifteen-year-olds drink whiskey, take sedatives and eventually undress into the most painfully awkward semi-sex scene imaginable. Watching mere children in that situation is, no doubt, realistic, but it’s not a reality we want to see on-screen.

That being said, Terri is a solid film for its purpose. We see teenagers (Wysocki is the only non-teenager, I think, at twenty-one) in their natural setting interacting. There is nothing special about the film and there really isn’t a lot going on, but you find yourself intrigued nonetheless. A bit slow, a lot weird and extremely mellow, Terri finds a way to give a little back to its viewers.

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  1. Couldn’t agree more with this review. The movie’s focus is on realism as you said and that is what I like about it. I felt John C. Reilly reflected exactly what people expect a guidance counselor to be like. Someone whose job it is to help troubled kids when he can’t even help himself in his life outside his job with his wife. I have a review of this on my blog too if you want to check it out. Great review!

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