The Singing Detective

Bomb Rating: 

I guess the lesson here is pretty simple: Don't let simpleton filmmakers read Freud.

This film plays out like director Keith Gordon's undergraduate psychology project. I guess the lesson here is pretty simple: Don't let simpleton filmmakers read Freud. Remember, if psychology and dealing with repressed feelings were as easy as this film makes it out to be, we'd all be doing it and there wouldn't be one iota of dysfunction in the world.

Dan Dark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn't exactly a candidate for Mr. Breakthrough either. He has a horrible skin disease that Dr. Gibbon (Mel Gibson) suggests may actually be the result of his rage and repressed memories manifesting themselves. In other words: psychosomatic. Initially, however, the audience is led to believe that Dan is merely a writer escaping his horrible predicament through a vivid imagination.

Just a side note: There are more psychotherapists per capita in the town in which I live than anywhere else in the world. Why do you think that is? It's one of two reasons: either my town contains more screwed-up people than anywhere else in the world, or it contains more quack psychotherapists (there are probably a litany of other possibilities that I'm unwilling to explore at this time). If any of these psychotherapists actually had a clue as to how to solve mental problems, they'd put themselves out of business. Therapy is self-generating. If therapy were as easy as this film makes it out to be, there wouldn't be a need for therapists in the first place. We'd all just read "Psychotherapy for Dummies" or watch stupid movies like "The Singing Detective" and our problems would be over.

Dan's detective tale is really just a bunch of repressed feelings running around as characters in a story. His demons are a couple of hoods (Adrien Brody, Jon Polito) who murder his girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) and his mother (Carla Gugino). Gradually, Dan's reality and his fantasy begin to mix together and we learn he has some serious issues. While this is going on, Dan's skin condition gets better, thereby linking his health with the resolution of the story.

Despite the severity of Dan's mental dysfunction, he soon manages to walk out of the hospital like a Texas housewife after twelve hours in the company of Dr. Phil. Every conceivable problem he's ever had is fixed through the amazing power of self-awareness. Thank God I'm not seeing a therapist or I surely would have stabbed myself through the forehead with my critic's writing instrument at the realization that I had been wasting thousands of dollars and years of my time trying to figure the complex problems some Hollywood film appears to be able to solve in less than two hours.

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