Film Review: Terri

Azazel Jacobs’ Terri is an amiable comedy drama. The film’s only crime is that it meanders a little too much.

Terri is an overweight teenage boy who lives with his sick uncle and has few friends at school. When he is called into the principal’s office for tardiness, Terri meets Mr Fitzgerald. The principal seems to genuinely want to help Terri, as he struggles through his adolescence…

Terri is a feel-good film which does not take an obvious route. A story concerning an overweight teenager could have easily been preoccupied with bullying issues. Instead, these remain in the background as the film concentrates on the nature of Terri’s relationships with others. In this sense, Terri is just another regular teenager who struggles in his relationships with adults and his peers.

There is a good mix of comedy and more emotional moments in the film. The main characters all appear three-dimensional, each having natural quirks. Humour is garnered from the interactions between Terri and Mr Fitzgerald, as well as the rather unusual Chad. All the relationships in Terri seem natural; the conversations between teacher and pupil are both amusing and sweet.

Performances in Jacobs’ film are decent. Jacob Wysocki plays Terri with a passivity that implores the audience to empathise with the character. John C. Reilly is great as Mr Fitzgerald, bringing a great deal of the humour in the film. Bridger Zadina brings zeal to the role of Chad.

Those who prefer clear-cut, three-part narratives may not be too impressed with the film. Nevertheless, Terri is an enjoyable watch.

Terri is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.