I love it when a movie I know nothing about pulls me in and knocks my socks off. Which was exactly the case with Terri, an odd little comedy-drama about an overweight 15-year-old outcast that hit both my soul and my funny bone, and has become one of my favourite films of the year.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) doesn’t have much going for him. Besides being a very large boy, his parents have run off and he lives with his sickly uncle, James (Creed Bratton). He wears pajamas to school and is constantly mocked by his peers.
After repeatedly being late for class, Terri is sent to the Principal’s office. Principal Fitzgerald (brilliantly played by John C. Reilly) wants to help Terri and sets up a weekly meeting with him to check-in. Terri seems to like this attention until he learns the only other kids who have these meetings are handicapped. Crushed by the news, Terri shows how emotionally troubled he really is.
Not much else happens in Terri. There’s a subplot with a girl Terri likes and we see how his uncle’s health affects him, but that’s about it. What really makes the film standout are the little scenes between Wysocki and Reilly. These two work together amazingly, and it was exciting to watch them in an otherwise dull situation.
Director Azazel Jacobs has an interesting outlook on life and his style is very reminiscent of the American indie films from the ‘60s and ‘70s (Harold and Maude came to mind while watching Terri). If nothing else, I’m intrigued by his vision and want to see what else he has in store for us in the future.
Terri is not going to be a smash hit and most people will probably balk at the pace of it. And although Wysocki should become a star because of it, it probably won’t help him get there. No, this is a movie that a handful of people are going to love and champion until it makes its way onto DVD where a larger audience will hopefully find it. But you should find out for yourself if you love it or hate.
Terri opens in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver August 19.
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jacob Wysocki, Creed Bratton
Directed by: Azazel Jacobs
Top image: A scene from Terri. Courtesy Mongrel Media.