February 21, 2024

back in 2005, Keanu Reeves he slyly delivered one of the most wonderful and overlooked performances of his career for the drama little thumb. In Mike Mills‘ coming-of-age picture, Reeves devotes the previous two decades of his career—as well as his public persona—to treading the waters of self-parody. little thumb He finds himself in the role of Dr. Perry Lyman, a New Age space orthodontist who uses some unconventional philosophies to help a teenager (Lou Taylor Pucci) overcoming the habit of sucking children.


Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who has been in such memorable roles since the beginning of his career that it’s almost impossible not to be a fan of the guy. By the time Thumbsucker came along, he had already made a name for himself, appearing in existential and depressing teenage dramas (The River’s Edge), silly comedies (Bill & Ted’s Great Adventure), and high caliber action images (speed, Matrix, the list goes on). More than that, though, he’s the man himself: a lovable, humble and often endearingly eccentric character who’s as fascinating to see the character on the outside as he gets deep into a role. little thumb he takes advantage of it, giving Reeves a tongue-in-cheek flick that feels thoughtful and, of course, deeply Reevesian.

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In ‘Thumbsucker’, Keanu Reeves’ role is a parody of the real-life actor

Keanu Reeves as Perry and Lou Taylor Pucci as Justin Cobb in Thumbsucker
Image via Sony Pictures Classics

Reeves’ small but vital role little thumb it is one that works on several levels. For one thing, he’s a lovable character. He is gentle, in touch with his spirituality, and often mutters philosophical musings. Participates in bike races and 6k races. He loves seeing his patients, and when he greets them, he seems completely sincere. “Why do I deserve this honor?” she says, adorably, to Justin (Pucci) when the boy unexpectedly shows up in her office. It sounds a lot like what you’d hear Reeves do in a candid meeting with a fan.

On another level, however, the appearance of Reeves little thumb it works so well because of how well the role suits the actor. It’s like a tailor-made suit for him. Dr. Lyman feels like an alternate universe Reeves, if this whole movie star business didn’t work out, you might find him in an orthodontic office in a Portland suburb. little thumb, Mike Mills and Reeves all know that. They are aware of the striking parallel between the actor and the subject, and rely on the stereotypical image that Reeves made in the 90s and the new millennium. All of Dr. Lyman’s qualities can basically be said of Reeves: swap marathons for jiu jitsu, and you’ve got it nailed.

Looking back also lends authority to the role. Lyman drops pearls of wisdom throughout the film in his usual calm delivery that is 100% real Keanu Reeves. At the end of the film, Lyman reflects on a recent change in philosophy: “the trick…is living without answers,” he says. “…I guess,” he adds, with perfect comic timing. Over the past few years, the internet has been filled with clips of the beloved actor doing essentially the same thing in interviews. Watch him talk to her Stephen Colbert about what happens after death. Or to Drew Barrymore on the subject of love. He’s thoughtful and well-spoken, but he’s self-aware and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Lyman spends his screen time doing weird and eccentric things. She talks about spirit animals, and helps Justin find his own in an impromptu hypnosis session. Trying to help Justin stop his usual thumb, Lyman hypnotizes the boy into thinking his thumb is like Echinacea. Orthodontic appointments in Lyman’s office are soundtracked by overhead speakers playing water sounds, flutes, and ambient music you’d hear at a luxury spa or during a 3-hour meditation playlist. His host refers to him on an informal first-name basis (“Perry’s ready for you,” he tells Justin) as a reminder. Keanu Reeves’ humility. It all works because it makes the character lovable, but it works all the same better as it shows one of the most iconic actors in modern cinema laughing at himself.

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Among a star-studded cast, Keanu Reeves is “Thumbsucker’s best asset.”

Maybe screws’ the biggest flaw is the frequency with which Keanu Reeves appears. As one of the smaller indie sleeper hits, little thumb It has a stacked cast list of stars playing quirky parts: Tilda Swinton she brings out a raw vulnerability in the role of Justin’s mother—”Audrey”—a dreamy nurse obsessed with a popular TV actress. Vincent D’Onofrio He comes in as an emotionally distant but well-intentioned father figure, insisting that his children call him by his first name because it’s a word father it makes him feel old. As well Vince Vaughan He appears as the no-fuss coach of Justin’s discussion group. It’s Reeves who shines the most, though, and by the time the credits roll, it’s hard not to want more Dr. Lyman.

For a film about (and after the title) a teenage protagonist, a lot of time is spent with the adults, who are just as crucial to the story as the boy. Justin’s parents mirror Justin’s use of thumb-sucking as a coping mechanism through their emotional coping devices: Audrey with her eternal fantasies of meeting her crush and Mike with his broken dreams of athletics. Lyman, on the other hand, is a kind of New Age sage who offers Justin his cryptic wisdom while apparently having his own life made up. She dismisses Justin’s habit as an undeserved taboo: it’s just a psychological substitute for breastfeeding in infancy. At the end of the movie, he sees that he was also, to some extent, wrong. He doesn’t know who he wanted to be, and that’s okay.

Movies like trivia little thumb it works best when the dialogue is tight and the lead actors play characters that almost jump off the screen. The movie is full of them, but Reeves—and Dr. Lyman—are the film’s greatest asset. look little thumb in a postGo Wick In the world, while Reeves lives the lavish life of being a universally loved figure, it gives the film an extra charm. Now that we have plenty of meme-able Keanu Reeves moments to comb through online, we can see that he was and is in on the joke, and he’s pretty respectable for it.

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