BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JULY 30, 2010
The mass majority of Americans have issues, including myself. After viewing “Shrink,” however, my issues pale in comparison to those of Henry Carter’s. Drugs and death surround “Shrink” and its characters, creating the subsequential theme of the film. Every character in the film suffers from some sort of addiction or disorder. Normally it would be professionals like Henry Carter who help sort those problems out, but in the time frame of this film, Henry Carter is in no shape to be handing out advice.
Kevin Spacey plays celebrity psychiatrist, Henry Carter, who, as we meet his character, is preoccupied with drugs. Henry’s wife has died before the start of the film and as the story unfolds, the viewer is privy to some shocking information. Intervention and support from family and friends have no impact on Henry’s addiction as he turns to his young drug dealer for deep conversations and receives drug-diluted answers in return.
Henry’s life spirals, leaving him sprawled out by the poolside unconscious every morning. Not until a young patient, Jemma (Keke Palmer) is forced on him, does Henry finally start to see the bigger picture. Having survived the suicide of her mother, Jemma is just as detached from life as Henry, yet her innocence restrains her from giving in to a life of drugs, turning to the escapism of movies instead.
During the run of the main storyline led by Spacey and Palmer, several other storylines chase alongside to fill any void the film might have with only two main characters. Robin Williams plays one of Spacey’s patients, suffering from sex addiction (or alcoholism… or both). With little help from Henry, Jack (Robin Williams) must settle his issues alone. Dallas Roberts becomes agent and hypochondriac, Patrick, whose avoidance of touching and constant motor mouth makes for interesting rants with several other characters. Patrick’s job, like most agents it seems, is hunting down his client Shamus, the existential drug-addicted movie star, who winds up at improbable parties and even does a stint in the hospital after swallowing a grocery list of harmful substances.
Daisy, Patrick’s assistant, played by Pell James, does her best to assist her eccentric boss, all while carrying a baby for her sister as a surrogate and helping her new man, Jeremy (Mark Webber), an out of work screenwriter working as a valet, who… dun da dun… is a friend with Henry Carter, completing a full circle. Toss in a random, out of work actress being neglected by her rocker husband, Kate (Saffron Burrows) and you have a complete and utter cluster-cuss. The incongruent paths of all the characters eventually converge in an average, almost worthwhile, yet ultimately weak climax, providing at least some sense of meaning by the end credits.
Kevin Spacey delivers a great performance, proving his true acting styles lie in cynical and depressed characters. Spacey’s demeanor and zest carried into said roles make for unique experiences in the films in which they are contained. Keke Palmer’s presence was also worth the cost of the rental. Her performance relied more on her abilities rather than her beauty.
“Shrink” is a valiant attempt at a meaningful drama, but in the end, the film is truly only worth the two average performances from Spacey and Palmer. The rest of the film is uninspiring. Robin Williams’ uncredited dramatic appearance increases my love for his serious acting. See “Shrink” solely for an exemplary display of Kevin Spacey’s range and uncanny ability to remain relevant in Hollywood’s growing world of irrelevancy. Otherwise, leave the imaginary people’s issues to someone else and find solace in your idiosyncrasies.
January 21, 2009
Henry Reardon (story)
(for drug content throughout, and pervasive language including some sexual references)