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Shrink, the film is wrong on so many levels that our head spins. In the interest of full disclosure, though, this film runs its story on a mix of psychiatry and Hollywood dealing and we've been through both in the course of our lifetime. You can't bring those experiences into a theater. We do but either way . . .
IN SHORT: A very dull sit. [Rated R for drug content throughout and pervasive language including some sexual references. 104 minutes]
The film, according to the press notes, is supposed to be a "fast-paced exposé of the “other” Hollywood, featuring folks living outside their comfort zone and the people who put them there." It is a film about Henry Carter (Kevin Spacey) is psychiatrist to the A-list of Hollywood. He's such a good head doctor that he couldn't see his late wife's mental decline prior to her suicide (all back story) and has Carter has buried the emotions that could have wrecked him under a a thick haze of marijuana smoke. His dealer delivers custom blends from a classic Mercedes Benz and while his friends and family think an intervention is what is necessary, Carter believes he is quite fine in the head thank you very much. He has to be. His clients are a walking disaster area.
Up front are two A-list movie stars, a one named Irishman called Shamus (Jack Huston) and his co-star, the long married sexaholic (but desperately horny) Jack Holden (an uncredited Robin Williams). Both are currently doing the press thing for a new film called Norsemen while the good shrink himself is busy with promoting his best selling self-help book "Happiness Now!". (You'll briefly see Gore Vidal as a Charlie Rose style TV interviewer). At the behest of his father Robert (Robert Loggia), Carter takes on a self-destructive, troubled teen Jemma (Keke Palmer) pro bono. Jemma's the angry black kid who is schooled among white kids, though her bits and pieces of subplot are a lot more interesting than that. Also on the client list is , fading actress Kate Amberson (Saffron Burrows), a super-agent named Patrick (Dallas Roberts) and the ever in the hole writer, Jeremy (Mark Webber).
As as movies go, it isn't hard to figure out that a good hunk of the aforementioned characters will find themselves working together. It's the Hollywood way. In this case it comes after Jeremy finds the doctor's file about Jemma. He uses it as inspiration for a new script and manages to sell it as a movie. Said sale is what will bring most of the characters together as stuff (potentially) starts to fly.
OK, where to start . . . Psychiatrists don't keep their files in plain English. They wouldn't leave said files in common areas (getting high doesn't make you that stupid). More important, any doctor -- as all shrinks are -- who can't abide by their Hippocratic oath shouldn't be practicing and have a duty to resign their practice. We've seen and/or know all of this first hand. That Carter hasn't retired, in light of his wife's suicide and his apparent guilt about it, is unthinkable to us. It is indicative of some other motive working underneath the surface. We don't where and we've indicated our suspicions but we're not pointing the finger. That's flat out called covering our butt.
We've condensed this all -- not to forget the agent's way overworked, under appreciated assistant Daisy (Pell James), though we will forget the other clients -- because this film is so much junk. As we watched the backdrop of Hollywood parties and such, strangely missing from a film that purports to open up the window on high power A-list behind the scenes stuff is Scientology and cocaine. There's one snort buried in the film somewhere but the best joke, if you could call it that, involves an overdose of horse tranquillizer. As for Scientology, you can't function in LA without getting hit on at a party. We'd tell you stories, but we'd get sued. We can tell you what is on the record: Scientology spouts a a virulent anti-psychiatric line as it pitches other methods. It functions as a IRS sanctioned church (thus,no tax paying) even as it charges big bucks for its services. That being said, if you can avoid a lot of time on the e-meter, it's one of the best networking methods available in Hollywood.
That's flat out called covering our butt disclaimer number two.
All said, a behind-the-scenes film (of any industry or profession) that is understandable to a common Joe audience can and has been done many times. Shrink doesn't seem to know if it wants to be comedic (the agent) or serious (the theft of files, etc.) and without a clear cut direction, its ending is pat and ridiculous. And we're not going to tell you how it all comes together because we've managed to keep the third act secrets secret for fifteen years of reviewing. We're not going to change that now, regardless of how bad the film is.
And this one is awful.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Shrink, he would have paid . . .
If you want to slam shrink-age fine. If you want to do it against a Hollywood background, well, we get suspicious about what is conveniently omitted. As a film, Shrink is far too dry and, dare we even say it? too dull for the average joe.
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