Azazel Jacobs (director)
Network on Air (studio)
10 September 2018 (released)
19 September 2018
This dead-pan comedy drama, directed by Azazel Jacobs with great sympathy and understanding for its protagonist (in particular dysfunctional and overweight teenager Terri) has had its cinematic release in 2011 and that also goes for its various DVD-releases, none of which were European format. Thanks to Network, TERRI can finally obtained both on DVD and Blu-ray in this country as well.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight and socially awkward teenager whose life isn’t made easier by the fact that in school he is constantly bullied while back home he is the sole carer of his sick uncle James (Creed Batton). It’s never really explained as to what happened to Terri’s parents, only that he doesn’t know where they are ans what they are doing.
With such a drab existence it’s hardly surprising that Terri loses interest in many things, including school though at least his uncle’s house is surrounded by gorgeous countryside. His performance in school starts to slack considerably while his frame of mind seems increasingly unhinged – not in a psychopathic kind of way but in a “I don’t care about anything” kind of way. Perhaps that is the reason why Terri can’t even be bothered to get dressed for class, instead turning up wearing his pyjamas. He also takes delight in putting up mousetraps in his uncle’s attic, only to display the half-dead trapped mice on show outside his home, leaving them to their fate until some hungry birds of prey takes ‘pity’ on them. His uncle isn’t well pleased when he finds out what Terri does to the mice and reads him the riot act concerning animal cruelty while in school, his teachers show growing concern for Terri’s increasingly erratic behaviour.
Enter Darryl Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), a school assistant principal who talks way too much but ultimately means well. He decides to take the troubled Terri under his wing and orders him to attend for one hour ‘counselling session’ every week, together with various other misfits including the mentally unstable and frighteningly skinny Chad Markson (Bridger Zadina) – an androgynous boy who forever seems to pull out strands of his straggly hair. Another ‘candidate’ is pretty student Heather Miles (Olivia Crocicchia) who stands accused to have participated in a sexual act (involving fingering’ during class though it is never established whether she was forced by a fellow or not.
After initial hurdles Mr. Fitzgerald and Terri manage to strike up a friendship of sorts based on mutual understanding and respect though the friendship is put to the test after it emerges that Fitzgerald showed his ‘secret’ Yesterdays scrapbook not only to Terri but to Chad as well, consequently the friendship between Terri and Chad is also put to the test.
The film, slightly overlong perhaps, takes great care not to slip into any clichés concerning social outcast while at the same time has humorous moments on offer too, for example the scene when Mr. Fitzgerald, Terri and Chad are the only mourners at the funeral of Mrs. Hamish, the deceased school office receptionist. Another fine moment is Terri’s ‘date’ with Heather which Chad tries to sabotage by turning up uninvited at Terri’s house.
The strong onscreen rapport between Wysocki and Reilly holds this film together and gives it special meaning.