Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
"Shrink" gives us a high-profile Los Angeles psychiatrist whose life has been reduced to smoking as much pot as he possibly can. If the movie contains a surprise, it's that he doesn't find his way to cocaine. Kevin Spacey brings another of his cynical, bitter characters to life--very smart, and fresh out of hope--but the movie doesn't give him much of anywhere to take it.
The idea of rich, famous, drug-addled Hollywood flotsam is not precisely original, and this sort of story has rarely been more strongly told than in "Hurlyburly" (1998), with Sean Penn as a cokehead and Spacey himself as a bemused, supercilious witness to the wreckage. As for the behind-the-scenes Hollywood stuff, you can't much improve on Altman's "The Player."
What director Jonas Pate and his writer, Thomas Moffett, do is sidestep deep characterization and bring in a rather conventional assortment of clients for Spacey's shrink, named Henry Carter. We meet a movie star past his sell-by date (Robin Williams, unbilled), who thinks his problem is sex addiction, although Henry assures him it is alcoholism (the sex addict's running mate). Dallas Roberts plays Patrick, an agent driven by hyperactive compulsions; Patrick's assistant Daisy (Pell James), is preggers; Shamus (Jack Huston), an Irish actor who is an alcoholic just for starters, and the actress Kate (Saffron Burrows), is a trophy wife who finds her husband's trophy shelf is not yet complete.
These characters are intriguing in their own ways, especially when we sense Williams restraining himself from bolting headlong into his descriptions of sexual improbabilities, but each one is essentially a walk-on act, and even when their lifelines cross it seems an event in the screenplay, not their lives.