Terri Azazel Jacobs

Terri Azazel Jacobs
Anyone complacent in the status quo would have a hard time appreciating or even interpreting Terri, a drearily realist comic teen film that rejects the standard familiarizing tropes of the genre in favour of unflattering realities and the insanity of normalcy. Instead of making the titular Terri (Jacob Wysocki) – an obese teen so resigned to pariah status he wears pyjamas to school – accessibly idiosyncratic, subject to overt criticism and desperate to fit in, Momma's Man director Azazel Jacobs depicts him as passive and meek. He's still curious about his classmates – in particular a young girl with a similarly passive disposition, allowing herself to be denigrated sexually in family studies class – and much more perceptive and intelligent than he lets on, but this isn't a movie about a goofy dork repeatedly embarrassing himself and saying stupid things. There's a realistic sense of self-consciousness attributed that enables him to keep his emotions controlled, discreetly running away when humiliated or indirectly insulted by his principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), who lumps him into the special needs category with the mentally and physically handicapped kids. And beyond smart, perceptive characterizations, the core script continuously doles out hard-hitting, astute and profound observations about how people are socialized, acknowledging the arbitrary, almost petty nature of social superiority, along with the ways that desperation and prolonged abuse manifest themselves. Examples abound with occasional observations about contrary etiquettes as Terri struggles through the world learning not that "it gets better," rather that everyone and everything are disappointing. It's impressive that such bleak subject matter manages to generate as many laughs as it does, but at its core, Terri is an uncomfortably honest film that will confound the well adjusted and likely hit a little too close to home for everyone else. Included with the DVD is a behind-the-scenes feature about the process of making the film, the casting and how Reilly's involvement helped everything come to fruition. (Mongrel Media)