An overweight school misfit and an 'understanding' vice principal bond in 'Terri,' a high school drama with equal parts drabness and low-key comedy.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a very overweight sad sack who lives with his addled uncle and regularly shows up at high school wearing pajamas. He endures his classmates’ taunts with world-weary aplomb and seems older than his age.
“Terri” is about how, with the help of an “understanding” vice principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), this kid gradually opens up. To my way of seeing, though, Terri doesn’t open up much more than a peep. Wysocki acts in varying shades of drabness. Worse, director Azazel Jacobs and screenwriter Patrick deWitt seem to think this drabness is a mark of humanity.
The film’s high school atmosphere is fairly generic, although a wiggy friend of Terri’s, Chad (Bridger Zadina), is amusing (and might have had a better time of it in a John Hughes film). A scene between Terri, Chad, and Heather (Olivia Crocicchia), the pretty classmate who warms to Terri when he unexpectedly takes her side in a school disciplinary action, is the best thing in the movie. It’s full of the tingle and jitters of (very mild) adolescent sexual byplay.
Reilly does well with his tenderhearted martinet routine, but the film makes him out to be as harried in his own way as the kids he’s trying to help. He becomes Terri’s friend – as opposed to friend/therapist. From a psychological standpoint, this is murky territory but Jacobs presents it as the height of enlightenment – a confluence of two damaged souls. At least “Good Will Hunting,” another movie that played this game, wasn’t blah. Grade: C (Unrated.)