Numb Harris Goldberg

Numb Harris Goldberg
It seems that the mantra "write what you know” is often taken too far by the many screenwriters who write scripts about struggling, neurotic screenwriters. It’s a cliché and works only with aiding the audience in their acute awareness of contrived quirks and plot devices. Despite the hokey premise, cheesy Dandy Warhols soundtrack, lethargic direction and cable production values, Numb is a relatively engaging dramedy with complex characterisations and some unique insights into depression and misanthropy. Hudson (Matthew Perry) is a depressive writer suffering from depersonalisation, a condition that leaves victims feeling detached from their bodies and actions. This is only exacerbated by a bout of profuse pot smoking that sends him spiralling into dysfunction. During a pitch session with partner Tom (Kevin Pollack), Hudson meets Sarah (Lynn Collins), a foxy studio exec with a tendency to utter profanity at inopportune moments. Inspired by his desire to get into her knickers, Hudson decides to seek psychiatric help in order to ground himself enough to become relationship material. After running through many doctors, diagnoses and medications, Hudson happens upon a bizarrely idiosyncratic cognitive therapist named Dr. Cheryl Blaine (Mary Steenburgen), who initially helps him but shows some of her mental instabilities after they start copulating on a regular basis. What really works for Numb is the attention to detail in character development. It would have been easy to draw a trite portrait of Hudson as a misunderstood genius but Goldberg has given him believable flaws. He demonstrates personal insecurities and a professional confidence while remaining aware of his own shortcomings. His tendency to lie to protect himself and find fault in everything around him makes him difficult to like but Matthew Perry brings a subtle charm and humanity to the character. Comic devices such as the "negative thought counter” bring a great deal of amusement to Numb, as it is easy to relate to the unspoken negative thoughts Hudson has while walking through a grocery store. The DVD is fairly flimsy, with a single featurette that shows Goldberg talking about the autobiographical nature of the film and Perry discussing how difficult it was to play such a subdued character. (Peace Arch)