6 Jul
John C. Reilly, and very little else, is worth watching

Read The Elf’s review of Terri, screened courtesy of the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF)

Obese, outcast teenager with a crap home life finds redemption and a sense of self through a caring teacher. No, it’s not Precious. It’s Terri. This time the put-upon teen (Jacob Wysocki) is a pasty white male who wears pajamas to school, lives with his senile elderly uncle, and exists on a steady diet of beans on toast. Terri longs for Heather, the hot blonde girl in class who is galaxies away from being in his league. His only friend is Chad (Bridger Zadina, in a performance that’s all over the map), a troubled goth loner who likes to pull his own hair out of his scalp (yes, it’s disgusting to watch).

Terri has just about given up on life when the eccentric, lovable high school vice principal Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly) swoops in and takes him under his wing and sets him on a path of self-discovery and growth.

It’s not a new story, which would have been fine if director Azazel Jacobs had given the material a new spin. Say what you will about Precious — Director Lee Daniels took a familiar story and made it fresh, unique, and ballsy. Reilly is solid as always. He’s a lovable, unpredictable presence on screen, and a few of his lines pop compared to the rest of the screenplay, suggesting that maybe, possibly he improvised a wee bit. If so, good for him — those lines breathe some life into an otherwise stale script. Besides Reilly, the only other standout performance comes from Olivia Crocicchia. She’s compelling, natural, and sympathetic as Heather, the girl who goes from popular, hot blonde to outcast, lonely blonde after a high-school sex scandal nearly gets her expelled. Besides the flat script and uninspired direction, Wysocki fails to elicit any real sympathy as the main character. You can’t just stick an obese, sad-sack teen on screen and expect an audience to feel something. There just isn’t enough depth to his Terri to make this stand out from other teen outcast flicks. With the lack of funds for independent movies these days, it’s kind of disappointing when something as milquetoast as Terri gets its spot in theaters.

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