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Case Number 13689

Buy Numb at Amazon


Image Entertainment // 2008 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 23rd, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is numb. No, wait, that's dumb.

Editor's Note

Our review of Numb, published May 11th, 2007, is also available.

The Charge

A medicated love story.

Opening Statement

Matthew Perry (Friends) runs point on a romantic comedy about a guy who's @#$%-ed up in the noggin but maybe—just maybe—might be able to spring himself from his stupor. Maybe.

Facts of the Case

Perry is this guy Hudson Milbank, a semi-successful writer who one day—and quite suddenly—finds himself totally off the deep end. A hit of marijuana triggers a latent personality disorder that makes Hudson feel disjointed, disconnected, unfeeling and, you guess it, numb.

He bounces from therapist to therapist, medication to medication, desperate to get to the bottom of his psychological meltdown. As he lumbers through life, he eventually meets Sara (Lynn Collins) a woman who miraculously is willing to endure his psychosis. But is it enough to rock Hudson back into reality?

The Evidence

Numb is pretty good. Not particularly hilarious or particularly romantic or particularly moving, but equally adequate in all those categories. Matthew Perry's performance, however, is dynamite and gives the film enough juice to merit a recommendation—provided the subject matter interests you.

And it's deep subject matter. A guy's personality going nuclear leading him to delve into a whirlwind of prescription medication cocktails and experimental medicine and self-destruction isn't shallow stuff and good for writer/director Harris Goldberg for treating it with grace. Hudson's disorder isn't played for cheap gags and any laughs that come from it are earned and never derogatory. Again, Perry also has a huge hand in how it works; he's self-deprecating, but authentic and while one may be befuddled over the severity of his affliction—and how much of it can be pinned on misfiring brain synapses and how much of it is self-manufactured—the guy evokes sympathy and becomes a protagonist who you're rooting for.

Even when he screws up hugely. And there's a lot of that here and, to be honest, the sheer number of mistakes his characters makes throughout the film, dumb-ass choices that compromise all his opportunities for a fulfilled life. Granted, that plays toward the guy's psychosis, but sometimes I thought Hudson self-sabotaged a little too egregiously, as if the sole reason he did so was to prolong the dramatic tension of the film.

In supporting roles, Lynn Collins is an excellent foil to Perry, her character quirky enough to complement his dysfunction. She's also amazingly cute. Kevin Pollak has a fairly inconsequential role as Hudson's writing partner and Mary Steenburgen, as awesome as she is, occupies an odd niche as one of Hudson's repressed and suddenly-sex-obsessed therapists. It's funny to watch her rediscover her scorching libido and all, but that plotline did little to advance the story. She disappears in the entire third act.

This movie is Perry's and he has the goods. Plus, this is a take on the romcom genre I've never seen, and I've seen a lot, so points awarded for that.

This is a good disc, featuring a very crisp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 surround mix that doesn't have much to do. Harris Goldberg's commentary and a making-of documentary are it for extras, but they're both good supplements.

Closing Statement

Numb flirts with being a bummer, but it's really not too bad—sincere, grounded and grown-up.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Let's pop the pills in celebration!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 80
Story: 90
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Drama
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Making-of Documentary


• IMDb

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