Friday, December 7, 2007

The Chumscrubber

To begin with, I do not know what a Chumscrubber is. Within this movie the Chumscrubber is an animated character on a television program that is important to a couple of the characters in this movie. Other than that, he seems somewhat inconsequential.

At its core, The Chumscrubber (the movie) is about suburban teens struggling with drugs, peer pressure and their parents. It is about parents who want to live their own lives and have their children take care of themselves. It is bleak to say the least, but entertaining and possibly informative.

The cast of The Chumbscrubber is impressive. Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janney, John Heard, Carrie-Ann Moss all take turns as the variously interested parents. Close is grieving the loss to suicide of her son. Janney is trying to keep her vitamin supplement business going. Fiennes is trying to hold on to his sanity while maintaining his position as mayor. Heard spends the movie as the sheriff trying to get to the bottom of the pseudo-kidnapping of his his pre-adolescent son.

The Chumscrubber is entertaining, but it is not fun. It is always informative, but it is not pleasant. Although the marquee stars of the film are all in the adult roles, the movie is really about the teens. They are dealing with issues of acceptance, drug use and abuse, ethics and more.

Jamie Bell plays Dean, a teen-age slacker who uses drugs out of boredom. Dean realizes too late that his dealer, who commits suicide at the beginning of the movie, is also his best friend. Because he does not know that the dealer is his friend, he is surprised when the other drug-users turn to Dean to replenish their supply of pills. These drug-users devise a plan to kidnap Dean's younger brother, but inadvertently swipe the wrong Charlie.

Meanwhile, the adults are all in their own world of weddings, funerals, business, gossip. They are too self-absorbed to see that anything is amiss. How sad.

It is easy to look at this film, or any of the dozens that are like it, and deny its assertions. Adults are really not like this. Parents are more active in their children's lives. That may be true, but it does not diminish the dangers that are brought up. All of these scenarios are not only possible, they are true. These stories are played out in suburbs all across America every day.

So, what can we learn? Pay attention. Look around you. See the pain and hurt that is taking place everywhere. This week another young man took a gun and killed some innocent people, presumably because he felt alienated and alone. He had been fired from his job and lost his girlfriend. It would not have been hard for someone to befriend him. It would not have been hard for someone to make a difference for him, and for the others who were lost this week. Who can you make a difference for?

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