If ever a title told the viewer all they needed to know about a film, this is it. The twin puns at work in the title of Ken Boynton’s trying-too-hard comedy say it all. The set-up is simple. Four patients are meeting their psychiatrist for a group therapy session in a modern day high rise. For reasons neither acknowledged nor explained, all of the clients and their doctor wear Elizabethan garb and speak in Shakespeare’s rhyming iambic pentameter. Anger management, obsessive compulsive behavior, sexual dysfunction, all the biggies of modern day psychiatry are discussed in textbook-perfect Shakespearean inflections.
This is a variation on a schtick that’s already been used, in varying degrees of wardrobe/speech pattern/setting mishmashes, in such films as “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” “Shakespeare in Love,” Macbeth in Manhattan,” and, of course, the most recent version of “Hamlet” with Ethan Hawke. Which is to say, it’s a bit of a tired gag by now and this short film, while innocuous, doesn’t really add anything to the mix. The patients’ problems are cliched and the doctor is a stereotypically scheming rascal. As for the Shakespearean inflections…well, remember how Andre the Giant’s character always spoke in rhymes in “The Princess Bride?” Bingo. That’s exactly the depth of “Shakespearean” writing on display here. Again, refer to the title for examples. The actors all throw themselves into their roles with enthusiasm here and there is a clever gag or two for the picking, so this isn’t a terrible film by any means. However, none of that can mask the fact that “The Taming of the Shrink” is essentially just one big groaner gimmick of a film.