Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 75
    The movie contains many of the usual ingredients of teenage suburban angst tragicomedies, but writer-director Mike Mills, who began with a novel by Walter Kirn, uses actors who can riff.
  2. One of the wonderful things about Thumbsucker is that, unlike so many movies in which a character changes in order to propel the plot forward, this one stops to follow up on the consequences of those changes.
  3. 75
    Pucci is an actor to watch: He rides this spellbinder without softening the truths that plague the thumbsucker in all of us.
  4. 75
    A perfectly cast Keanu Reeves pokes deadpan fun at himself in the role of Justin's New Age dentist, who hypnotizes the kid and encourages him to find his inner ''power animal.'' And Vince Vaughn, in a rare straight turn, is excellent as Justin's high school teacher.
  5. It's Pucci - who's already won a couple of acting prizes on the festival circuit, including Sundance - who steals the film with a wonderful performance blending the awkward innocence, vulnerability and pain of being a teen.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The movie and its theme of self-acceptance has an honesty, undercut by occasional preciousness, that makes it worth seeing.
  7. Often amusing but lacks the necessary bite.
  8. Reviewed by: Bob Westal
    Benefits from a goofy yet incisive sense of humor and some extremely strong performances.
  9. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    A refreshingly low-key treatment of teenage trauma, with a lovely star performance and an unforgettable approach to orthodontics.
  10. It's the kind of movie that lives and dies by a viewer's own idiosyncrasies.
  11. Pucci pulls off Justin's transformation without resorting to histrionics; it's like a radio-station signal finally coming in clearly.
  12. Pucci proves to be one of the most charismatic male ingenues since Johnny Depp.
  13. Mr. Pucci, emerging slowly from behind a stray lock of brown hair, plays Justin's ambiguous transformation with deft understatement. And Mike Mills, who wrote and directed, keeps the film from slipping either into melodrama or facile satire, the two traps into which this genre is most apt to fall.
  14. 80
    It feels fresh, almost improvised, mainly because Mills doesn’t drive his scenes toward an obvious resolution.
  15. 70
    American independent movies about awkward adolescence are never in short supply, but this highly assured first feature by commercials and music video director Mike Mills is the first since "Donnie Darko" to view the latter stages of teenagerdom as fodder for a phantasmagorical odyssey of Lewis Carroll–like distortions.
  16. Thumbsucker aims high but swerves too frequently between the engaging and the credibility-defying to be satisfying.
  17. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The parents are the casualties of Mills' misplaced sincerity, which makes Thumbsucker the quintessential misadapted head-scratcher.
  18. Thumbsucker is a head-scratcher. It's well directed and acted. Yet the story has little emotional pull.
  19. It's not a great movie, or one that should preoccupy you much afterwards, but it's certainly a good one. It's a fine debut for first-timer Mills.
  20. 75
    Thumbsucker is true to its nature, and that makes Justin's eventual transformation all the more rewarding.
  21. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    The movie has a lot of good bits and terrific performances, including a too-perfect Keanu Reeves as a mystic orthodontist.
  22. 63
    The film's underlying notion, that imperfection is the essence of humanity and the pursuit of bland flawlessness a kind of soul-killing drug, is far more compelling than its story of clichéd teen angst.
  23. So no one would argue that Thumbsucker sucks. But the thing does seem just so indie-movie familiar.
  24. 50
    The actors can't escape the confines of the warmed-over, coming-of-age-in-suburbia script by Mills, from a novel by Walter Kirn.
  25. 75
    As it stands, the film is perhaps a tad low-key to catch the eye, but it's carefully enough made and, especially, acted, to keep a hold on the brain and heart long after it's over.
  26. Most disappointing is the ending, which, in projecting the possibility of a saner and more hopeful world, is a bit of a cop-out.
  27. 70
    It's a familiar story, but Mills and Pucci treat it as if it were the first time anyone had thought to tell it.
  28. 70
    Endearing and well-acted.
  29. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Thumbsucker (like "Donnie Darko") is more likely to prosper in the long haul as a home-format cult fave than in its initial arthouse tour. Both offer eccentric humor within a fairly somber overall tone, support-cast surprises, and (to a lesser degree in Thumbsucker) fable-like, hyperreal elements.
  30. A gently stirring symphony about emotional transition filled with lovely musical passages and softly nuanced performances.
  31. 70
    Vince Vaughn in a wonderfully low-key performance.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 31 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. MarkK.
    Jul 29, 2007
    A refreshingly original film with plenty of smiles and pathos. It is easy to imagine oneself in the main character's place, which makes the movie more effective. Overall, very enjoyable. Full Review »
  2. DaveC.
    Jun 11, 2007
    Zzzzzzz... trite and vacuous indie film. Non-descript where it thinks it is being subtle, banal where it believes it is being profound. Soundtrack was very good though. Full Review »
  3. MattJ.
    Sep 3, 2006
    A cross between two great films, fight club and donnie darko, feeling that the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and trying to find all the ways possible to become perfect, but realising true perfection is imperfect Full Review »