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Terri Blu-ray Review

Terri (2011) movie poster Terri

Theatrical Release: July 1, 2011 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Director: Azazel Jacobs/ Writers: Patrick Dewitt (story & screenplay), Azazel Jacobs (story)

Cast: Jacob Wysocki (Terri Thompson), John C. Reilly (Mr. Fitzgerald), Bridger Zadina (Chad Markson), Creed Bratton (Uncle James), Olivia Crochicchia (Heather Miles), Tim Heidecker (Mr. Flemisch), Justin Prentice (Dirty Jack), Mary Anne McGarry (Mrs. Hamish), Curtiss Frisle (Sex Ed), Tara Karsian (Mrs. Davidson), Diane Louise Salinger (Mrs. Vick), Lisa Hoover (Waitress), Jenna Gavigan (Samantha Goode)

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The independent film Terri centers on Terri Thompson (Jacob Wysocki), a morbidly obese and unenthusiastic high school student. You could say Terri is in a bit of a rut lately, but this hardly seems like a new development.
He attends school in pajamas and always arrives late. He lives in squalor with his elderly, dementia-battling Uncle James (Creed Bratton, "The Office", revealing fine dramatic chops). Their favorite and most frequent meal together is baked beans on toast.

Terri's habitual tardiness gets him sent to the assistant principal's office. Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), Mr. Fitz for short, comes across as both cool and caring, dropping the word "dude" a lot. Concerned about Terri's behavior, he schedules a weekly Monday morning one-on-one session in lieu of homeroom. Terri is not pleased to learn that the privilege is one afforded just a handful of his schoolmates who are all saddled with mental, physical, or emotional problems. Still, he values Mr. Fitz's counseling and ends up finding a friend in another outcast, hostile hair-tearer Chad (Bridger Zadina).

In addition, Terri befriends Heather Miles (Olivia Crocicchia), one of the hottest girls in his school. Unbeknownst to her, Terri has actually spared her from expulsion by reporting his eyewitness account of a home ec sexual encounter. Ostracized by her classmates over the incident, Heather becomes an unlikely confidante to Terri. As does Mr. Fitz, who exhibits candor in his talks with the boy, raising his voice only for show.

Through a fortress of French toast ingredients, Terri Thompson (Jacob Wysocki) sneaks a look at his home ec classmates' sexual experimentation. John C. Reilly plays sympathetic assistant principal Mr. Fitz(gerald), who listens in front of a motivational poster.

This is not a film driven by plot, instead serving us a slice of adolescent life from the fringe of society. The proceedings are tremendously slow, dry, and bleak. Terri was marketed as a comedy and you'd expect that from the setting and Reilly's recent gravitation towards that genre. But the movie is very rarely funny and quite often uncomforting. The tone is comparable to Napoleon Dynamite, if Napoleon Dynamite was an R-rated straight drama whose characters weren't at all amusing. It is a laborious experience which feels like it runs twice as long as the 105 minutes it does and twice as long as it has to.

It's not all bad, however. Reilly elevates the movie every moment he's on screen, which is fortunately quite a bit. He scores the movie's only laughs and his spirited characterization is more complex than the awkward lug that has become his signature. We pick up mere morsels of Mr. Fitz's ongoing marital problems and, like Terri, we occasionally question his honesty and intentions. Ultimately, the administrator makes a convincing case for his decency and for the sympathy he shows Terri.

Terri backs away from this focal thread to spin a climax out of a house "date" between Terri and Heather, which a drunken Chad intrudes upon. The three youths swig whiskey, swallow pills, and shed clothing. The misbehavior comes out of nowhere and arrives with seemingly little purpose other than to defy your expectations and unsettle.

Creed Bratton may be one of the most reliably entertaining actors on "The Office", but he's solemn and tragic here as Terri's Alzheimer's-afflicted Uncle James. Pajama-wearing mess Terri (Jacob Wysocki) somehow attracts the attentions of pretty classmate Heather Miles (Olivia Crocicchia).

Maybe the whole thing is autobiographical and first-time screenwriter Patrick Dewitt is just faithfully sharing his trying teen experiences with the world. Such a theory is supported by the aimlessness and general lack of imagination. At least the movie, the biggest to date directed by Azazel Jacobs (who shares story credit with Dewitt), cannot be charged with glamour or convention. While you can appreciate the unique vision and lack of PG-13 sugarcoating, they and Reilly's compelling turn are about all you might be able to enjoy here.

Among the first films theatrically distributed by ATO (Art Takes Over) Pictures, Terri was a non-starter in limited release, despite receiving favorable reviews. It comes to DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday from ATO's video partner, 20th Century Fox.

Terri Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Minimal budget or not, Terri looks excellent on Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 presentation is free of any flaws, delivering perfectly suitable visuals sharply and cleanly. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is as low-key as the characters themselves, with dialogue remaining intelligible and crisp in between plenty of silence.

Director Azazel Jacobs discusses his filmmaking methods in artsy black & white. Excitable gym teacher Mr. Flemisch (Tim Heidecker of Adult Swim's Tim & Eric fame) butts heads with Terri a second time in this deleted scene. With its imagery of gym ropes, clouds, and pajama wallpaper, the Blu-ray menu shows imagination and flair that the film itself does not.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

As on the DVD, just two bonus features are offered here. "A Look Inside Terri" (10:29) provides that with offbeat production footage and black & white reflections from director Azazel Jacobs and actor Jacob Wysocki.
It sheds some light on the film's creation, but like the movie, it's weird and lacks meaning/focus.

There's also a reel of three deleted scenes (7:40), presented windowboxed and in clear standard definition. It consists of an amusing second appearance by Tim Heidecker's excitable gym teacher and two extensions of Terri, Chad, and Mr. Fitz's shared outing.

The scored, animated menu depicts buttons, clip clouds, ropes, character stills, and rain or teardrops falling down against what looks like Terri's pajama fabric, an image bearing no specific relevance to the film.

The disc opens with trailers for Brand New Day, Skateland, and Fox's (and, by extension, MGM's) Year of a Million Moments, none of which are accessible by menu. Terri's own trailer is not included.

The disc supports bookmarks but is less reliable at resuming than Fox Blu-rays usually are.

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) and Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly) face off, paralleling a lion and lamb poster advocating trust.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you're in the mood for an independent movie casting John C. Reilly across a complicated, oversized youth, check out last year's entertaining Cyrus. Terri offers something vaguely similar, but without the comedy or coherency. Though Reilly has some nice moments and the movie maintains an air of authenticity, it's just too dark, weird, depressing, and discomforting to enjoy in any real way. Terri proves that not all small movies are gems.

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John C. Reilly: Cyrus Cedar Rapids Step Brothers | Creed Bratton: Labor Pains
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Terri Songs List: Amelita Galli-Curci - "Crepuscule", Creed Bratton - "Akiko's Canvas", Linus Huey - "Michael Irvin", Dogweed - "Lone Dog", Henry Wolfe - "Someone Else"

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Reviewed October 8, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 ATO Pictures, Verisimilitude Productions, Silverwood Films, Periscope Entertainment, Knowmore,
and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.