Movie Review
Whiplash poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published October 26, 2014
US Release: October 10, 2014

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller , J.K. Simmons , Paul Reiser

R for strong language including some sexual references
Running Time: 106 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $12,988,000
I expected a decent flick and what I got surpassed my hopes to become possible movie of the year.
Well how do you like that? Finally someone in the cinematic universe shows up with some quality material. I expected a decent flick walking into this one, and what I got surpassed my hopes to become possible movie of the year. Walking out of this one, I felt like I needed a cold shower to counteract the rush of adrenaline I had just felt. Michael Bay, with all his pyrotechnics, is not able to serve up anything as thrilling as the climax to this joint.

But letís step back for a moment. Whiplash focuses on a young drummer at a prestigious college who thinks he has what it takes to ďbe the best.Ē The flick is about whether he is really ready to do what it takes to achieve that goal. He is spurred towards that end Ė or maybe away from it Ė by a sadistically magnetic uber-teacher who is respected and feared by everyone on campus. This teacher is played by J.K. Simmons in the finest role of his career. And thatís saying a lot, because J.K. has done fantastic work in everything he has ever appeared in. But this film at a later stage of his career gives him his first true chance to shine. Iím ready to hand out the golden statues right now. His character is so real and raw, that you just buy it from the first second. Kudos to that fool.

You might think that a movie about a young aspiring jazz drummer in New York City could carry a stink of pretentiousness. In this case, youíd pretty much be wrong. There is obviously a heavy cloud of pretension carried by the Simmons character; but this film examines and critiques such attitudes. Through this, it makes a statement about what motivates people in a general sense, and the things they are willing to sacrifice (morals, decency, human civility) to get to their dream state. Wow, a movie that says something; punch me in the head with one of those spring-loaded boxing glove contraptions.

Thereís a hot chick in this movie, but fortunately the romantic angle is very subdued. Itís barely even there at all, and thatís the way I like it. Miles Teller plays a kid who is meek at first, but becomes the douche-bag that we all knew he could be as events keep rolling along. This psychodrama is especially rich for people with a background in or deep appreciation of music. Thereís lingo-enough for the most hardcore students of the auditory arts, but people with no knowledge of such things will be moved just the same. Director Damien Chazelle gets my props right now, especially from knowing how to intricately tweak the mind-games being played between teacher and pupil. Shame on America for not making this movie a mid-level indie hit. This movie is too good for America. Go check it out so that it can make more than a million dollars at the box office.
Scott's Grade: B+
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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