RESOURCES

Thumbsucker

The book Thumbsucker was made into the movie Thumbsucker.

Which one did you like better, the book or the movie?  Right now there are 3 votes for the book, and 4 votes for the movie.

VOTE NOW:         

Book details for Thumbsucker

Thumbsucker was written by Walter Kirn. The book was published in 1999 by Anchor. More information on the book is available on Amazon.com.

 

Read More About This Book

New York magazine's witty, cheeky book critic Walter Kirn rides high in his exhilarating second novel, and so does his protagonist, Minnesota teen dweeb Justin Cobb. Justin's hippie dentist may have hypnotized him out of his socially perilous thumbsuckin... Read More
New York magazine's witty, cheeky book critic Walter Kirn rides high in his exhilarating second novel, and so does his protagonist, Minnesota teen dweeb Justin Cobb. Justin's hippie dentist may have hypnotized him out of his socially perilous thumbsucking habit, but he can't suppress the boy's "oral gift." Justin's mouth just won't quit: beer, decongestants, nitrous oxide, cough syrup, Midol, and Ritalin go in, and out spritzes hilarious commentary on his eccentric yet authentic life and times. Our hero's mood larks and plunges erratically, but Kirn's prose is alert, artful, under control. The debate coach's skin is "the neutral hue of turkey meat." One of Justin's realistically inconclusive crushes is a redhead "with freckles the color of new pennies." Her dad is a Limbaughesque columnist who calls welfare recipients "food tramps." Meanwhile, Justin's dad, Mike, is "the Führer of fly-fishing," an ex-gridiron hero obsessed with deer hunting (and eating). He's also prone to spouting his vile old coach's preposterous apothegms ("Until you're broken, you don't know what you're made of"). Mike is funny and poignant--a tricky note to hit.

Like a mucked-up modern Huck Finn plying his own stream of consciousness, Justin drifts into weird scenes: a job at a gas station fated for torching, a visit by his mad Winnebago vagabond grandparents, a kidnapping caper to rescue a pothead infant from sinister hick parents, Grit and Munch. Chapter 4, about a Chippewa City debate meet and rather chaste orgy, is dazzling teen satire. Not that Thumbsucker is flawless: Justin's nurse mom is a vague character, his more vivid kid brother is inexplicably ignored, the satire of the Hazelden celeb rehab is lame, and, like Huck's, Justin's adventures sort of peter out instead of leading up to a slam-bang finale. The family's conversion to Mormonism seems arbitrary, though richly detailed, since Kirn was a small-town Mormon kid.

Flaws, schmaws. Thumbsucker is the truest book about adolescence I've read since This Boy's Life, and Kirn is some kind of comic genius. --Tim Appelo

Movie details for Thumbsucker

The movie was released in 2005 and directed by Mike Mills (II). Thumbsucker was produced by Sony Pictures. More information on the movie is available on Amazon.com and also IMDb.

Actors on this movie include Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Keanu Reeves, Benjamin Bratt, Kelli Garner, Vince Vaughn, Chase Offerle, Dakota Goldhor, Walter Kirn, Kit Koenig, Sarah Lucht, Arvin V. Entena, Eric Normington, Nancy O'Dell, Allen Go, Lanette Prazeau, Bob Stephenson (II), Tyler Gannon and Colton Tanner.

 

Read More About This Movie

A sterling cast--including Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves, Vincent D'Onofrio, and especially Tilda Swinton--lifts this coming-of-age story above the norm. Justin (Lou Pucci, Personal Velocity) is 17, yet he still sucks his thumb. Depressed, he frets that his ... Read More
A sterling cast--including Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves, Vincent D'Onofrio, and especially Tilda Swinton--lifts this coming-of-age story above the norm. Justin (Lou Pucci, Personal Velocity) is 17, yet he still sucks his thumb. Depressed, he frets that his parents (D'Onofrio, Full Metal Jacket, and Swinton, Orlando) are going to split up, that he has no focus in life, and that the girl he longs for can never love him--until his orthodontist (Reeves, The Matrix) hypnotizes Justin into quitting his thumbsucking, and a questionable diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder results in medication that launches him into a wave of over-achievement. The script, though it has some clever flourishes, never lifts beyond typical adolescent turmoil, but thanks to wonderfully vivid and multi-layered performances (including Vaughn, Wedding Crashers, as a debate teacher with hair issues), the movie never flags. Swinton also executive-produced the movie; she clearly saw in this suburban mother a character she could invest with as much emotion and intensity as the angel Gabriel (Constantine) or the White Witch of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). It's rich, intricate acting, never showy, yet mesmerizing. Thumbsucker also features Benjamin Bratt (Pinero) and Kelli Garner (Man of the House). --Bret Fetzer