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By Greg Bellavia | December 2, 2004

Suicide can be funny. “Heathers” is a very humorous and engaging film dealing with teen suicide because it understands how serious the subject matter is and then handles its jokes accordingly. In “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray has an amusing montage attempting to violently escape from the day that will never end. On paper the idea behind “Child Psychology” is funny but loses its footing in the execution. Justin (Blake Irving) is in therapy following a failed suicide attempt. In talking with his psychologist he reveals that he is attempting to escape from his mother who has dominated him since the day he was born. What follows is a variety of suicide attempts by Justin, shown in flashback as a child, to kill himself so he can escape his mother.

While the idea of a son rebelling in an extreme fashion against the natural love of his mother could be played for laughs (Stewie’s irrational hatred of his mother in “Family Guy” is so outlandish it’s funny) to have Justin as an adult robs the piece of its humor. To show a child reacting violently could be funny but to burden the piece with the framing device of Justin in therapy, the audience wonders why the adult doesn’t just tell his mother to shut up. Even at fourteen minutes this film is too long and should be told solely from a younger Justin’s point of view. The key to a piece like this being successful is in preserving the payoff and to have an adult Justin reveal his apprehension towards his mother so early on robs the follow up jokes of their humor.

In the end “Child Psychology” is a nice looking short film that would do much better in an abbreviated state.

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