Spring 2012 Features series
Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 8:00pm
Directed by Azazel Jacobs
Screenplay by Azazel Jacobs and Patrick Dewitt
Starring Bridger Zadina, Jacob Wysocki, and John C. Reilly
Rated 14A ·
A hit at the Sundance Film Festival, directed by Azazel Jacobs (Momma’s Man) and produced by the team behind Blue Valentine and Half Nelson, this is a moving and often funny film about the relationship between Terri (Jacob Wysocki), an oversized teen misfit and the loquacious but well-meaning vice principal (John C. Reilly) who reaches out to him.
Having been abandoned by his parents to an ailing uncle (Creed Bretton, The Office), Terri, is mercilessly teased by his peers and garners even more unwanted attention from school authorities by coming to school still wearing pajamas – when he decides to show up at all. Resigned to his outsider status, Terri is surprised when his tough-talking vice principal, Mr. Fitzgerald, takes an interest in him. Although his efforts are sometimes clumsy and occasionally dubiously professional, he genuinely wants to help him through this tough time. Under Fitzgerald’s tutelage, Terri befriends a pair of fellow misfits, Chad (Bridger Zadina), an edgy loner whose rebellion masks his own insecurities, and Heather (Olivia Crocicchia), a sexually precocious girl whose beauty proves to be a trap of its own. The three teenagers, so different on the surface, but all outcasts in the unforgiving high school hierarchy, find an unexpected, imperfect bond that reflects the tenuousness, poignance and pathos of the adolescent experience.
Deftly combining authentic and candid elements with wry humor and compassion, Jacobs tells Terri’s story with delicacy and complex emotionality, as the young man learns to reach outside his insular world. A film about the courage it takes to build relationships and the rewards of taking that sometimes terrifying leap, Terri is for anyone who ever felt alone or misunderstood in high school. In other words, all of us.
“What lifts Terri above its peers is not the plight of its protagonist or the film’s sympathy for him, but rather the care and craft that the director has brought to fairly conventional material. You don’t feel pushed around by the narrative. Mr. Jacobs paces his scenes with a relaxed, almost dreamy rhythm and allows odd, interesting details to catch his ear and eye. A pushier, less confident filmmaker would have underlined the quirkiness of the characters, condescending to them with mockery, sentimentality or a coy blend of the two. But everyone in Terri is allowed to be opaque and unpredictable, the way real people are. The members of the cast, Mr. Wysocki in particular, are awkward in just the right way.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times)