Friday, June 11, 2010


Directed by Jonas Pate.
2009. Rated R, 97 minutes.
Kevin Spacey
Mark Webber
Keke Palmer
Saffron Burrows
Jack Huston
Pell James
Dallas Roberts
Laura Ramsey
Robin Williams
Robert Loggia
Gore Vidal
Jesse Plemons

Maggie Grace

Plot: Dr. Henry Carter (Spacey) is a psychiatrist to the stars in Hollywood. Not only do they have serious problems, but he does, as well. Chief among them is his out of control weed and alcohol habits. He seems to have met his match when he takes on the pro-bono case of troubled high school girl Jemma (Palmer).

The Good: I’m a Kevin Spacey apologist. Therefore, I’ve liked him in just about everything I’ve seen him in. Still, I think this is his best work in a few years. He’s brilliant as a man decaying in front of our eyes. We believe everything about him. The rest of the cast is excellent, also. Most notably, Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee and Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP) is outstanding as Jemma, the troubled teen. The same goes for Robin Williams in limited time as a movie star trying to find excuses to cheat on his wife.

The Bad: In the tradition of “gritty” indy dramas and black comedies, it’s filled with unhappy and unlikeable people doing things that are unlikeable and keep them unhappy. There’s also the traffic jam of about a gazillion different storylines that tie together all too conveniently at the end. Then of course, this culminates in one of those conclusions where everything is instantly all better but we can’t buy it for one second. Any one of the subplots could make an intriguing movie on their own. All mashed together, like they are here, none of them feels developed enough. The most fully realized of these, the main one between Dr. Carter and his young patient, could’ve been a great variation of Half Nelson. It’s even headed in that direction. However, instead of continuing down that path and putting it’s own spin on it, it pulls up short so it can tie into all the rest of the movie in one supposedly magical moment.

The Ugly: “Break glass in case of emergency” weed.

Recommendation: The performances are top notch. There is also a thread of dark humor that runs through it. However, it crumbles under the weight of its own self-pity, rendering the phoenix rising finale laughable. In short, it’s a well acted trainwreck.

The Opposite View: Prairie Miller, NewsBlaze

What the Internet Says: 6.7/10 on (6/11/10), 30% on, 40/100 on

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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