Take a pothead celeb psychologist, a pregnant surrogate MILF, a tortured ghetto teen and a half dozen other Sundance character concoctions. Put them in a blender of contrivance that splatters them across an ersatz landscape of Hollywood superficiality. Voil! You have Shrink, a mash-up of two La-La Land movie mainstays: the cross-societal ensemble and the entertainment-insider satire. Screenwriter Thomas Moffett seems to have spent a night flipping between Short Cuts and The Player, alongside snippets of Wonder Boys, resulting in an unintentional parody of all of the above.
Kevin Spacey is the smoked-out shrink, spending half his scenes stoned on his back channeling pre--Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. He’s the nexus of a sprawling web connecting a dopey struggling screenwriter (Webber), an asshole star agent, two of his A-list clients, and the aforementioned hottie and troubled black student (Palmer). Even Gore Vidal and a shockingly subdued Robin Williams show up in this overloaded calliope. Credit director Jonas Pate, a TV veteran (Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica), for capably juggling his cast in serial fashion, even as some members disappear for extended stretches. He’s both helped and hampered by the fact that characters amount to ready-made types, instantly recognizable but lacking the depth to carry more than one scene at a time.
Ultimately Shrink strains to connect its characters, practically flaunting its coincidences. The film plays like a summation and implosion of tropes that have festered in quirkaholic Indiewood for much of this decade. Never mind the crazy cast; this weary retread of trendy multicharacter melodramas is what’s really unhinged.—Kevin B. Lee