Self-Medicated has won more accolades than Brokeback Mountain, not a single one for its side-splitting dialogue. A man for all seasons, writer-director Monty Lapica is the star of his own turgid Afterschool Special, which stretches out the ludicrous “I Learned It from Watching You” anti-drug PSA from the ‘80s to feature length. The whole thing is ridiculous in a retro-thrift-store sort of way, right down to the skeleton key that allows the MacGyverish Andrew (Lapica) to conveniently escape from the clutches of the ghouls who kidnap him in the middle of the night in order to take him to a psychiatric juvenile detention center in the Las Vegas desert. “You just earned your first trip to the pit…the essay pit!” says a Ned Flanderish counselor when Andrew cusses during group therapy, after which the boy has to write a 500-word paper about the life-wrecking effects of potty-mouth. This tall, pasty-faced white boy is still stinging from his father’s death, hence the belligerent cursing and heavyweight toking and drinking, and rightfully calls out his mom (Diane Venora, possibly bewigged) for popping more pills than Julianne Moore in Magnolia. In fact, just about everything Andrew does is largely warranted, from the rolling of his eyes every time someone subjects him to a corny you-can-do-anything-you-want-to sermon to calling a would-be flame a bitch for not telling him that he was going to be carted away against his will. Lapica’s contempt for the “tough love” program depicted in the film is justified, but he walks a very shaky line between parody and self-parody. The filmmaker, a survivor of one of these heinous institutions, is wise beyond his years, but the way he gives in to hoary cliché suggests he runs the Pay It Forward fan club (a crucial scene has mother and son fighting in the kitchen, the dead father’s ashes caught in the middle). Though Lapica sincerely believes that people with Andrew and his mother’s troubles should probably come to a place of healing on their own terms, that Andrew is set on a path toward healing by an African-American bum who is possibly an angel is just the epitome of retarded.
- 107 min
- Monty Lapica
- Monty Lapica
- Diane Venora, Monty Lapica, Michael Bowen, Greg Germann, Kristina Anapau, Matthew Carey, Shane Stuart, William Stanford Davis, Michael Mantell, Kelly Kruger, Karim Prince, Glenndon Chatman, Noah Segan, Marcus Toji
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