Films

Numb

UK release date: 14 June 2008


cast list

Matthew Perry
Mary Steenburgen
Lynn Collins
Kevin Pollack

directed by
Harris Goldberg
The title of Numb is enough of a summary: the film does exactly what it says on the tin. Matthew Perry (Chandler from Friends) stars in what is essentially a TV movie that escaped, and will leave you feeling utterly indifferent.

He plays Hudson who, after smoking a lot of marijuana, finds he cant feel anything emotionally. He cant maintain focus and stops caring about himself and his work. Paradoxically, he is sufficiently frustrated and angry enough about it to seek treatment in every place he can, which leads him to meet the vivacious but conservative Sarah (Lynn Collins). This doesnt mean a miracle for his morose mentality: instead it makes things more complicated.

You cant expect much from a leading man who hasnt had any work to stretch his talents since his TV days, but Perry fares well enough. The part suits him: no doubt letting him bring the pain of numerous medication bouts to the fore. His foil Collins is saccharine but otherwise performs her function in the formula well enough. As for poor Kevin Pollack, his role consists entirely of stuffing his face with mayo sandwiches through long and talky scenes.

Furthermore, heaven only knows why Mary Steenburgen was chosen to play the sexualized psychiatrist. Its not an obvious choice: by parts refreshing, by parts ridiculous. She plays uptight fabulously but as a lusty, obsessive love interest its all frankly unconvincing and a diabolical suspension of disbelief is demanded to make it through her and Perrys chemistry-devoid charade of courtship.

For director Harris Goldberg, co-writer of Deuce Bigalow and Without a Paddle, this is quite a change of direction: instead of boys-only comedy for those with deficit attention spans this tries to be balanced, artful and subtle. Its hardly successful, unless the aim of the film was communicate a sense of isolation and make us feel as numb as our protagonist.

The characters are achingly underdeveloped and apart from the very superficial facets of their lives and the pseudo-cerebral meltdown at the centre of the plot we are given no source of identification. Theres no-one in there to care about.

Fortunately for those in the US, this mostly pointless movie will be going straight to DVD. Over here, however, well have to make the effort to avoid it.



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