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1 review, 14 user ratings

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Self Medicated
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by Erik Childress

"True Stories Not Always Best Told By Oneself"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: When telling the story of one’s life, the tendency is to quash or soften the traits about yourself that would be less appealing to an audience. No one wants to make themselves off to be some sort of irredeemable jerk. It’s here that writer/director Monty Lupica deserves some credit. Veiled only in the pseudonym of a fictional character, Lupica not only exposes warts and all, a temperament that a few chill pills couldn’t help, but also steps into the role as the star of the film. Sometimes being that close to one’s story can alter the perception one needs to justify why that story is being told in the first place. The impetus behind this treatment assuredly is a noble one, but like the “Andrew” of Self-Medicated, perhaps a little outside help would have best to finding clarity.

Andrew Eriksen (Lapica) is in many ways the Ferris Bueller of Las Vegas, with three times the school absences. Such a classification in a town such as sin city should open the doors for all sorts of conning opportunities, but mostly his talents are used (cleverly enough) to keep him out of trouble. He’s smarter than his teachers but his GPA has recently dropped from a 4.0 to a 1.6. At home, Andrew has lost his father and has all but lost his mom (Diane Venora) to a depression-laden bout with drugs. With neither of them communicating at a low decibel and mom fearing the path her son is taking with multiple arrests, she has dropped dime on him to a special counseling center.

Special in the way they show up to your house in the middle of the night and kidnap you on the road to better stability. In this reclusive cuckoo’s nest, Dan Jones (Michael Bowen) tries to keep things nice and civil. That is until you swear and find yourself escorted to the essay pit. Not since Demolition Man has bad language been met with such stringent punishment. Essay offenses and the “standing room” would be too much to swallow if these weren’t actual methods used by the facility that the “real” Andrew was stuck in. Because of that this middle section of the film stirs our interest. With seasoned veterans like Bowen and a more understanding Greg Germann providing some solid support, we now have an outlet to direct our interest in Andrew’s well-being, other than just another malcontent with untapped potential. How bad or bizarre could the treatment get before we could start agreeing that it would be in Andrew’s best interest to jump ship?

Fortunately or unfortunately for Andrew (and for us) he does escape and leaves in his wake another half-hour of film to continue acting out and reflect on what he’s gone through. And boy, does he ever with not one, but two Will Hunting breakdowns to express the grief we know he’s been carrying for his late father. His encounter with a talkative homeless man (whose favorite word instantly becomes “Andrew”) seems about as unlikely as Haley Joel Osment’s in Pay It Forward. Although he does ask a key question which suggests that Andrew’s whole problem could have been solved with a few magazines and porn tapes. Hell, he’s in Vegas. If he can get some nice alone time at the top of the Palms’ Ghostbar, I’m sure he can find a greater release than a little weed.

I’ve never studied scientology, but I would agree that most psychiatry is a joke especially if the session ends with a prescription. This is a story that must retain its anger, not in Andrew’s everyday life, but what he was put through at the AArea 51. Either their methods are honorable or they are not, but there’s an anguish we must feel for what he’s being put through. We never spend one second with him on the clock in the “standing room”, which must be a torture beyond solitary confinement so we never really feel happy that he’s escaped, especially after he basically gets a free trip to Hawaii out of it. Self-Medicated thankfully never bottoms out to the “get over yourself” mentality of Girl Interrupted or the silliness of Stateside (although Bowen’s profanity-laced rant lacks the grace Alec Baldwin exhibited in letting one fly in The Aviator). Lapica displays a nice flair behind the camera giving the film a polished leg-up on the usual dry melodrama. Maybe next time, it would be advised for him to take a step back and let the passion of an outsider’s view get the story across. Cause once you’re committed, escaping that biased view isn’t as easy.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12298&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/24/05 12:45:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/05/07 Michelle Very nice indie film..had the feeling of a bigger budget movie...Andrew needed recast 4 stars
9/03/07 paul i just walked out of this movie. worse than an after school special. 1 stars
9/01/07 Private Poor acting, writing, directing. Below after school special quality. 1 stars
6/29/07 Suzanne Bently Excellent first effort... a little contrived, but enjoyable film. 4 stars
9/12/06 Adam Saw it at Bluegrass, very well shot and directed, much better than the crap that won awards 4 stars
8/15/06 Dan Tuntland real film 5 stars
5/09/06 Kevin C Great writing and superb acting from all. 5 stars
4/22/06 Rebecca simply, independent cinema at its best 5 stars
4/22/06 Tobey Rawlings Awesome indie! 5 stars
8/04/05 Chase Walden I saw the film at CineVegas and thought it was brilliant. 5 stars
7/06/05 John C Film School Quality at Best 1 stars
6/26/05 Dave Strachan Nice start, good middle, sloppy ending 3 stars
6/03/05 laura roper Amazing film!!!! A must see!!!!! 5 stars
5/21/05 Jason Reynolds saw it last month in vegas. very good film. 5 stars
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  31-Aug-2007 (R)
  DVD: 20-Apr-2010


  DVD: 23-Sep-2008

Directed by
  Monty Lapica

Written by
  Monty Lapica

  Diane Venora
  Monty Lapica
  Michael Bowen
  Greg Germann
  Kristina Anapau
  Matthew Carey

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