'Terri' an engaging film about misfits

Bridger Zadina and Jacob Wysocki in Terri

Bridger Zadina and Jacob Wysocki in Terri

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:10 PM ET

Terri is a film about adolescent misfits. That's probably redundant.

A story that quietly captures both the general horror and the faint possibility of hope that distinguish teenage life, Terri stars Jacob Wysocki as a big kid in a small town. Larger and wiser than most of his peers, Terri is a jumbo guy who lives with his strange uncle in a rubbish bin of a house.

Terri, whose girth makes wearing pajamas to school seem sensible, gets plenty of abuse from classmates. He doesn't seem to take much of it personally. He is observant and quiet, somewhat fixated on a popular girl at school called Heather (Olivia Crocicchia). He's an outsider but he's generally unruffled.

Terri is always late. He gets tossed out of phys ed and ends up in the office of the assistant principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly). Mr. Fitzgerald means well; he's an interesting cross between enthusiastic and ineffectual. He befriends Terri and encourages him.

Terri is concerned that Mr. Fitzgerald is giving him special attention because he perceives Terri to be a misfit. Still, Mr. Fitzgerald's guidance means that Terri eventually befriends another of the outcast kids, Chad (Bridger Zadina), and even defends Heather in another incident, winning her trust. Terri parents most of the people in the story, including his vaguely disturbed guardian, Uncle James, who is played by Creed Bratton.

("Where's your mother?" asks one of Terri's friends. "I don't know," is the answer. Same answer for "Where's your father?" It's that kind of movie.)

Terri isn't the only teen-misfit movie around this summer, but it's certainly one of the most appealing. The biggest part of that appeal is Jacob Wysocki, whose understated, engaging performance anchors the film. In a sequence involving a few drinks and some of Uncle James' medication, when everything threatens to go right off the rails, Terri somehow remains a calm centre. You can see the adult he will become as he begins to open up to life, fueled by the tiniest crumbs of affection.

Terri is the sort of indie project that does well at Sundance, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. We hasten to add that it never slides into precious territory. 


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