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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Terri

October 11th, 2011

Terri - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Terri got off to a good start in limited release earning more than $10,000 on the per theater chart. However, despite this, it quickly petered out and was never able to expand significantly. Granted, thriving in limited release is always a challenge and failing to expand beyond a few dozen theaters doesn't necessarily mean it didn't deserve to find a wider audience. Will it find that audience on the home market?

The Movie

Jacob Wysocki plays the titular Terri, a high school kid who doesn't fit in at school and whose home life is less than ideal. Both his mother and his father are out of the picture, so he's living with his Uncle James. However, his uncle isn't all there and for the most part, Terri is taking care of him, not the other way around. The situation is getting to him and he's been shutting down. He's not going to school every day and he's not participating in class when he does. Hell, he's not even getting dressed in the morning and comes to school in his pajamas. This has gotten the attention of the school's vice principal, Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald has taken it upon himself to help a few of the outcasts in school, including Terri, as well as Chad, who has a severe nervous habit and Heather, who is caught in class in a compromising position.

Much of the film is Terri in meetings with Mr. Fitzgerald, who is trying to help him get back on track, although it's hard, as Terri is so disconnected. Also, Mr. Fitzgerald's own life is a mess and he's not so good with his job. (More than once he's caught just spouting lines to Terri that at the time seem heartfelt, but are things he says to every student.) Things start to turn around when Terri comes to the defense of Heather, first when she is threatened with expulsion and again in class when students and then the teacher give her a hard time. For the first time in a long time, he starts to have real relationships, but he seems out of practice.

This is a film that moves at a pace that could be described as naturalistic or deliberate if you like the movie. Or it could be described as slow if you don't. The pacing issue is probably the thing that will keep it from finding a mainstream audience. Fans of Indie dramadies should be a lot more receptive. The acting from the main cast is excellent, especially Jacob Wysocki, who makes his movie debut with this film. His fills his character with a lot of empathy, despite being the target of bullies at school and not having a lot of emotional support at home. His uncle is obviously a loving person, but unable to help Terri when he needs to. Jacob Wysocki's chemistry with both John C. Reilly and Olivia Crocicchia help carry the film. I was worried the film might be too quirky for its own good, but that was never a problem in my opinion. All the characters come off as natural and react to situations, which are not exactly everyday occurrences, in a way that avoids excessive quirkiness.

The Extras

The only extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray are a ten-minute making of featurette and eight minutes of deleted scenes. There are no exclusive extras on the Blu-ray, but the film looks and sounds good in high definition. That's good, but not great. It wasn't a big budget movie and there are some scenes that are a little soft as far as details go, including in some of the darker scenes. The color reproduction is good, but the color palette is subdued. There are no problems with compression. The 5.1 audio track offers clear dialogue with some use of the surround sound speakers for ambient sound, but mostly the score. Finally, the Blu-ray costs just 24% more than the DVD, which is a good price.

The Verdict

Terri deserved to find a larger audience than it did, and while it might be a little slow for some, the performances make it worth checking out. The DVD and the Blu-ray don't have a lot of extras, but they are worth picking up.


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