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October 11, 2011

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DVD of the Week – Terri (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight high-schooler who wears pajamas to school because they’re comfortable. He lives in a small house with his uncle James (Creed Bratton), who suffers from dementia or possibly Alzheimer’s, and both of their lives are rather quiet and melancholy. Terri slowly descends into boredom, which can be seen in the slower pace in which he walks and the way in which everything seems like a chore to him.

Terri looks for different things that might amuse him. When his uncle asks him to place mousetraps in the attic, at first they work and five are caught. As he drops off the carcasses in the forest he sees an eagle swoop down and devour them. Terri is in shock at the awesome sight but then he tries to feed the eagle more mice and doesn’t seem to notice that now he’s killing animals outside of his house for personal amusement.

He isn’t disturbed nor is he stupid. At one time he was a decent student and he isn’t beaten on a daily basis at school, unlike most overweight kids in other Hollywood films. His grades begin to slip because he skips school frequently, due to a severe boredom with life and yet the film isn’t morbid or depressing. The school principal (John C. Reilly) befriends Terri, as he does other “unfortunate” kids and they develop a love/hate relationship that’s built on truth telling and also a slight bit of lies. There’s also the subplot of Terri and a girl classmate in which they develop a friendship in a not-so-normal way.

As the film progresses it never, ever really feels like a film. The performances are natural, probably due to the newcomer actors, and the dialogue sounds legit. The situation between Terri and his new female friend is grounded in a sort of reality. The film is character-based and not plot oriented (because this film actually has no plot) and succeeds in telling the story of characters that seem to be real, and that’s the reason why it’s really good. If the opening of the film had a caption claiming that it was based on a true story I would completely believe it.

It’s a quiet but wonderful film from which people of all ages can learn a thing or two. It doesn’t belong to any specific decade (I don’t even recall seeing cell phones in this film) so when movie lovers pick this film up some time in the future it will still seem relevant. Terri is a sleeper that should be watched because there hasn’t been anything like it for quite some time and it’s better than most of the films that have come out of Hollywood this year.

The DVD and Blu-ray contain only two features: A Look Inside Terri and Deleted Scenes.

Other new releases this week: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, The Tree of Life, Zookeeper


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 11 2011

    My mini-review from the monthly recap (because I’m too lazy to formulate an original comment just now):

    I’m not confident enough in my definitions to say if indie comedy-dramas about misfit high-schoolers are a genre, a category, or a trend, but whatever they are “Terri” fits the bill. The bill includes a cast of (mostly) unknowns, natural lighting, unobtrusive camerawork, and on the story front, an open-ended ending after piling on- the difficult home life, the bullying at school, the weirdo best friend, the physical differentness, the etc., etc. I enjoyed it even though that’s not really my cup of tea; you’ll definitely want to catch it on DVD if it’s yours. Jacob Wysocki, the young actor who plays the title character, is natural and appealing, but the main attraction is the unusual, truthful, and delicately handled friendship between Terri and his principal, played wonderfully by headliner John C. Reilly.

    (On a sidenote, I think it was a hawk. Whatever the species, it definitely was an awesome sight and I loved the look on Terri’s face while he watched it.)

  2. Oct 11 2011

    I could easily be wrong. :O)

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