The Chumscrubber is a 2005 dark comedy film directed by Arie Posin and written by Posin and Zac Stanford, starring an ensemble cast. The film focuses on the lack of communication between teenagers and their parents, and the prevalence of prescription drugs in American society. The title of the film refers to a character that helps his friends to survive in a superficial world by keeping things authentic and is portrayed in form of a video game omnipresent in the teenagers’ lives, in which a post-apocalyptic hero carries his severed head in his hand as he fights the forces of evil.
One day in the fictional town Hillside in Southern California, the supplier of prescription medication to the students at the local high school, Troy Johnson (Josh Janowicz), commits suicide. Troy’s best friend Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell), who found the body, is prescribed more antidepressants by his psychiatrist father Bill (William Fichtner). When Dean returns to school, he is antagonized by drug dealers Billy (Justin Chatwin) and Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci), who were supplied by Troy. Their friend, Crystal Falls (Camilla Belle), flirts with Dean, but he soon realizes that her true intentions are for Dean to retrieve the remaining drugs in Troy’s home and give them to her, Billy and Lee, and he refuses to cooperate. To force Dean to procure the drugs, Billy and Lee plan to kidnap Dean’s brother, Charlie (Rory Culkin), as a ransom, but they end up kidnapping Charlie Bratley (Thomas Curtis) instead of Charlie Stiffle.
The kidnappers hold Charlie Bratley – whose parents are still unaware that he is missing – overnight at Crystal’s home, and Dean eventually agrees to go to Troy’s home to find the drugs. As Dean delivers the drugs, though, Billy discovers that the bag doesn’t contain drugs at all. An angry Billy starts a fight with Dean, and Dean is arrested. While trying to explain everything to Officer Lou Bratley (John Heard), who happens to be Charlie Bratley’s father, Dean reveals that his brother Charlie replaced the drugs with a bag of the vitamins that their mother Allie (Allison Janney) sells. Neither Officer Bratley nor Dean’s father believes Dean’s story, but he is released, whereupon his father increases the dosage of the antidepressants that Dean is taking. Later, a flashback will reveal that Charlie Stiffle crushed the real drugs and put them into a casserole that his mother was making for Troy’s memorial.
The next day is Troy’s memorial service and the wedding of Mayor Michael Ebbs (Ralph Fiennes) to Charlie Bratley’s mother Terri (Rita Wilson). Lou finally realized that his son actually had been kidnapped and headed out to look for him. Now at Lee’s house, Crystal asks Lee to help stop the kidnapping scheme, but he does not comply. Crystal goes to Dean’s house for help, where she finds him hallucinating about Troy’s death and finally expressing his grief. Meanwhile, a paranoid Lee tries to stab and kill Charlie Bratley to avoid being caught, but Charlie fights back and slices the knife through Billy’s eye. Billy runs out into the street, screaming in pain, and is hit by Lou’s police car.
Dean goes into Troy’s memorial, where all of the visitors are intoxicated by the drugs that Charlie Stiffle put into the casserole that his mother made. Troy’s mother, Carrie (Glenn Close), discloses to Dean that she never knew her own son. Dean tells her about Troy, and she thanks him. Billy is later sent to prison, while Lee gets acquitted. A closing voice over explains that Dean and Crystal “escape together”, and they are shown kissing.
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First Published: May 21, 2012 – Last Updated: Dec 30, 2012