Directed by: Azazel Jacobs Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: July 22, 2011 (Chicago)
PLOT: An overweight teenager (Wysocki) living with his uncle is taken under the wing of an unusual school official who has his own problems (Reilly).
WHO'S IT FOR? Those happiest with Terri will be fans of John C. Reilly, especially those appreciate when he's not playing up a strange character for immediate yuks. Judging by the way it presents itself, Terri might also be satisfactory to those who particularly appreciate the kind of typical fare that plays at film festivals like Sundance or SXSW.
EXPECTATIONS: I wasn't sure what I was getting into with Terri, especially with the small response it received at the most previous South by Southwest Festival. What makes it so that a John C. Reilly movie plays an artful, hip film festival without gaining a notable following?
Jacob Wysocki as Terri: Despite all of the strange things that Terri does (such as playing with dead mice), and his unknown origin story, Terri is only truly compelling once we have a better grasp of the movie's possible ideology, as delivered by Reilly's character. For the most part, Terri is an oddball figure, but played with a blank performance by Wysocki. He has bursts of being a free-spirit that are unexplained. And since he could be set up for this comparison considering his relationship with an educational superior and his indifference to his weight, along with his unusual imagination, Terri is not like a white Precious. Score: 4
John C. Reilly as Mr. Fitzgerald: The malleable Reilly takes away our interest from the title character with the way in which his character moves between quirky attitudes, and handles Terri in a way that is more significant than either teacher or even friend. Something compelling about the character not concerning his chemistry with Terri is his mysterious motivations, and what sounds like a simple life. Score: 6
TALKING: Terri's perception of the way that teens speak feels pretty legitimate. The remarks that the title character's bullies bellow are especially precise with their meanness. Along with the breathy editing, Terri is a film that imagines human interactions to be full of long pauses during quiet exchanges. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Tim Heidecker continues to make another random appearance, (after last May's Bridesmaids, this time playing an overdramatic gym coach. Terri's visual style is not very significant with an exception of its editing, which can be defined as spacious with its slow space and tendency to fill scenes with slow gaps. This tends to make parts of Terri unquestionably dry. Score: 5
SOUNDS: Gentle waltzes are used to accompany the movie's wandering atmosphere, with the relatively forgettable motifs attempting to fill what feels like dead space. "Someone Else" by Henry Wolfe, which has a musical video directed by Terri director Azazel Jacobs and stars Another Earth's Brit Marling, is only heard in the end credits. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: The first meeting between Terri and Fitzgerald introduces the noteworthy Reilly and the movie's best element, the relationship between the two.
ENDING: "Sometimes, enough is just not enough."
QUESTIONS: Who is Azazel Jacobs, and why was his movie so boring at times?
REWATCHABILITY: Terri might be fair for a re-view miles down the road, but it would have to be at the urging of someone else. There's no way I could get myself to sit through this movie again, by myself, for a long time.
Terri is a shoulder shrug of an independent comedy that's not really sure what it wants to say, but plays with an array of quirky characters in hopes of finding some emotional center. Its best feature is not one of its odd young characters (it doesn't function well as a high school movie or a coming of age tale) but Reilly's character, who comes off as the most irregular character that we most want to learn about. The rest of the quest to locate the heart of Terri is too directionless with its wandering, leaving the audience unsure of where Terri's heart is at all. During this journey into understanding blank-faced Terri, there certainly isn't much to be happy about along the way.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10