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A movie directed by Azazel Jacobs

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A touching, funny, relatable indie drama that hits all the right notes.

  • Oct 25, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

High School life was in itself a whole new existence; mixed reactions were tossed around like hacky-sacks. Some people look back on their High School career and remember all those good times they have, while others regret what they missed out on, avoided, or weren't able to embrace at the time. Not all High School students are created equal. Some are kind, understanding, and mature; but the reality is that a good number of them are instead nasty, cruel, and still developing in terms of logic and thinking. A lot of movies release each year, attempting to tackle such subjects with both complication and grace; and you might notice that several of them fail. In the worst of years, not one High School-centered movie makes it out alive. But sometimes, there's a movie; and sometimes, it's a movie that can truly reach an audience. Hollywood High School dramas are nigh incapable of doing so; I would personally leave it to the Art-House/Independent crowd of films to deal with such themes and plot elements. Naturally, Art-House and Independent films are simply more true-to-life; made by people in touch with their emotions who don't just get tears for the sake of a pay-check.

I guess this year isn't all that bad; since among other things, 2011 does have one compelling High School drama, and that film is "Terri". It's an intelligent independent drama that truly brings depth to a subject that has been nearly worked to death. It treats High School as a living hell; in which the Guidance Councilor's office is the only place of peace and safety for the few troubled kids. A lot of High School films would rather follow the non-troubled kids; the ones that most teenagers in the target audience will relate to the most, over the misfits presented here. However, I would watch "Terri" over any recent Hollywood-made High School drama any day; if only for the sake of my sanity, which the film respects. It is made for smart movie-goers, those who have lived life and have studied it as much as the first-time director (Azazel Jacobs) and his screenwriter (Patrick DeWitt) have. All their observation and hard work has alas paid off in a rewarding, all-together excellent and emotional resonant movie.

The social outcast that we are introduced to is the titular character, Terri (Jacob Wysocki). He is an obese, quiet High School kid who lives alone with his Uncle (Creed Bratton of "The Office"), who is suffering from some form of dementia, late in his life. Terri is constantly made fun of at school for a number of reasons; a few worth mentioning include his weight, his clothing-of-choice (he wears a pajama outfit to school, claiming them to be comfortable enough for him to be content), and his lack of developed social skills. Terri is lonely, but complex in person. He still holds on to the humanity that many of his peers have since lost in the past few years.

Terri's behavior catches the attention of the school's assistant principle, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), who goes out of his way to talk to the troubled students of the school at least once every week. He is able to reach Terri through his laid-back persona and whacky sense of humor; and the two become close friends over a short period of time. Mr. Fitzgerald and Terri exchange intelligent, thoughtful dialogue that highlights the kind of philosophy that a Guidance-Counselor-figure should give to a student, which Terri begins to apply to what awaits him in life throughout the second and third acts of the story. He befriends an attractive girl (Olivia Crocicchia), who is herself suffering the consequences of a regrettably true rumor. Terri does not mind the rumor; he is just happy to have a girl talk to him, accept him, and perhaps even love him.

"Terri" does not escape genre conventions. It isn't a comedy, yet there are laughs; although I expect quite a few of them were generated through my own understanding of human behavior. This is something that most High School dramas that come out of Hollywood's hellish gates lack. There's also a sentimental send-off, but I didn't expect anything less, and I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not. "Terri" hits all the right notes, and by the end, we are involved enough with the characters to evaluate and emotionally invest in the situation and problems at hand. Wysocki's performance as the main character is sympathetic, sweet, and I believe it's good enough to be deserving of some pretty damn high praise. Reilly is as excellent as ever - as he typically is in his more dramatic roles, something he has been gearing more toward lately - and the actors that portray the various other troubled kids of the school are talented and play the parts accordingly. A lot about this drama shines. It's better than it appears to be, deeper, and about as realistic as it can possibly get. The film sets itself up so that a good number of lonely film buffs can relate to its character. You could be Terri; I could be Terri. He is such a wonderful young man, that perhaps there's a little bit of him in all of us. I loved him about as much as I loved the movie.

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More Terri reviews
review by . June 27, 2011
‘Terri' Has a Big Heart
For most of us high school was a time when we felt our lowest.  We sat by watching everyone participate in the normalcy of society; outcasts among a sea of pep.  Our exteriors the core of our unhappiness, could the mirror be any more vicious then these supposed “peers?” So many movies have showcased this idea and we can now add Azazel Jacobs’ Terri to the mix. A small indie film that won over Sundance that stars an overweight teen dealing with life, his medicated …
review by . June 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Terri' Starring John C. Reilly 'Two Jews On Film' Aren't Stoked By This Indie Hit At Sundance
By Joan Alperin-Schwartz      'Terri' is directed by Azazel Jacobs (Momma's Man) and stars John C. Reilly.       The press notes inform us, that this indie film, was a big hit at Sundance.      They also let us know that  'Terri' is a moving and often funny film about the relationship between Terri (Jacob Wysocki) an oversized teen misfit and his garrulous, well-meaning Vice Principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (John …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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