Sep 07

“She’s Funny That Way”: Another Inappropriate Therapist

The cast of Peter Bogdanovich‘s comedy She’s Funny That Way (2014) includes Jennifer Aniston, who’s garnered a significant amount of praise for her role as an inappropriate therapist.

A brief synopsis of the plot from Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

Izzy (Imogen Poots) tells reporter Judy (Illeana Douglas) all about her crazy climb from call girl to famous actress, thanks to director Arnold (Owen Wilson, still in ‘Midnight in Paris’ mode), who has a habit of giving escorts enough money to change professions. Little does he realize that Izzy’s next audition in her newly-launched acting career will be for his own Broadway show, opposite his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn, playing a more sympathetic character than usual) and lothario Seth (Rhys Ifans), who carries a torch for Delta and who witnessed Izzy coming out of Arnold’s room the morning after their night together.

But wait, there are more subplots. Jessica Kiang, Indiewire:

  • In her call girl/muse persona, Izzy enraptures an elderly judge (Austin Pendleton), who hires an equally aged private detective (George Morfogen) to follow her (love the throwaway gag that the detective agency’s motto is the forlorn ‘We’re never too busy’).
  • This gumshoe (the film is dotted with archaic slang) just so happens to be the father of the Broadway show’s writer (Will Forte), who also falls for Izzy, despite dating hard-ass therapist Jane (Jennifer Aniston), who is the judge’s analyst.
  • And Izzy’s. Delta and Gilbert have an ongoing flirtation, though Gilbert also patronizes Vicki’s (Debi Mazar) escort service, at one point hiring a delightfully dim-bulb Lucy Punch.

Unfortunately, this star-studded movie has generally been panned. A couple reviewers’ slams of She’s Funny That Way:

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: “She’s pretty much a turkey, actually…”

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s a zany sex farce, less like a 1930s screwball comedy than like one of those faux-naughty comedies from the mid-1960s, and it’s as phony as those movies, without contact with real emotion or even with recognizable human behavior.”

The Shrink: How Unprofessional! Then Again, It Is a Farce

Robbie Collin, Telegraph, calls Jane “the world’s least sympathetic, least discreet therapist.”

Guy Lodge, Variety: “[Aniston] gleefully fashions Jane as a sociopathic psychotherapist to rival Dr. Fiona Wallice…(‘I’m not judgmental,’ she snaps to one terrified client who has just confessed a crippling romantic fixation, ‘but that’s just stupid.’)”

Still Want to See the Trailer?

In this preview of She’s Funny That Way you’ll get a pretty good idea of the various complications as well as the unacceptable-if-this-were-real-life therapist behavior:

Nov 03

Dr. Melfi of “The Sopranos”: One TV Therapist’s Scary Dilemma

The Sopranos (1999-2007), now available on DVD, features mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) in therapy with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). She in turn has her own shrink, Dr. Elliot Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich).

One particularly scary episode is entitled “Employee of the Month.” States, “Very few Sopranos episodes have had as much written about them as “Employee of the Month” has.  And understandably so. It is a sharp and powerful episode, and one of the highlights of the series.”

In this episode, Dr. Melfi is brutally raped by a guy named Jesus Rossi (who turns out to be said employee at a sub shop she goes to). He gets arrested but is soon released on a technicality. Naturally, this fuels Melfi’s distress and rage.

In a dream, Melfi sees a large menacing Rottweiler, then her actual rapist, who starts to assault her again. But the dog saves her by violently attacking Rossi.

Melfi wakes up feeling relief. Later, she describes the dream to her therapist.

The Rottweiler in her dream is deemed to represent her client Tony, whom she knows could be her protector if she so chooses. All she’d have to do is say the word—Tony would have the guy killed. As it is, though, he has no idea what happened to her.

Although she assures Elliot, her shrink, that she will not in fact take this route—which of course involves serious moral and ethical ramifications—she’s seen in an ensuing session with Tony seeming quite close to doing it. There’s a nine-second silent pause while she considers whether to admit her plight…

But then she doesn’t.