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By Brad Slager | July 27, 2003

Part of me hopes that this is an accurate depiction of life in Hollywood. Realizing that this is a comedy means that it’s surely a broad portrayal, but I do relish those who lead a privileged life and whine about their predicament. “Shrink Rap” focuses on a married couple, who are both semi-successful actors, yet toiling in emotional angst because they are unsatisfied with their careers.
While it is noble to want to improve your position in life, I think becoming self-destructive while appearing in a prime-time show and living in Malibu extends beyond melodramatic. Brian bemoans his lot as the typecast handsome star who has to recite stupid lines on a stupid night-time soap, and his wife Jaime is a B-movie actress wanting to break into mainstream films by auditioning on the old casting futon. (Maybe that should have been attempted about 15 years ago.)
A couple that is this out of touch is either bound for Betty Ford or due for a significant life change, and one comes in the form of a balding bartender named Dennis. He is hired for a surprise party for Brian and has a front row seat to their personal strife. Dennis is also studying to be a psychologist with an online college and therefore feels emboldened to help out the floundering couple. The soirée reveals Brian’s rising depression, Jaime’s dalliance with a producer named Jeremy who has a soul-patch that comes and goes over a couple of days, and Brian’s brother Nick who has a f******o fixation.
Dennis lends an ear to an intoxicated Brian for the duration of the night and ends up getting so attached to the actor that he damages the engine of his Edsel to force himself on the couple. Brian is amenable despite Dennis telling him that he is “almost a shrink”. The two lovers grow further apart and Brian then agrees to an impromptu therapy session on the paint cans in his garage. Feeling empowered, Dennis decides to tackle Nick’s oral fixation, informing the man that other forms of physical recreation can be even more rewarding, such as intercourse. (Honestly, what does it say about a man that needs to have this pointed out?) Next he delves into Jaime’s medulla, telling her that is she is talented enough to stop sleeping her way to the middle.
For the most part the production is pleasant, if not uproarious, and the actors are adept at comedy. The material is imbued with enough humor to be enjoyable, but strains to hold up for 89 minutes. It feels as if it may have lost material in an effort to streamline the production or possibly had been a short film stretched out to feature length. While some scenes last too long others feels as if something was missing.
One of the better moments comes at a point where Brian has to meet with studio suits to negotiate a contract extension with his character on the show. He insists that Dennis sit in with them and his neophyte analyst treats the meeting as a therapy session, using notes he took during the party to cleave a deal and get the studio heads to open their emotions.
The movie’s premise is wry enough to be an enjoyment and director Doug Cox manages to elicit nice performances from the cast. Clearly this was the result of all parties teaming up to benefit the production and in the process elevating the material’s weak points.
It does raise one question: If online tuition is affordable enough, enrolling in a psyche course via email may be preferable to a year’s worth of therapy.

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