Quadruple-threat tyro can't quite break dependence on melodrama

Self-Medicated

on August 31, 2007 by Chad Greene
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This is the kind of kid that Andrew Eriksen is: After escaping from the steroidal orderlies that his mother (Diane Venora) has hired to haul him off to a locked-down facility for troubled teens, his first call is to her—to see if they can work it out.

His second call? To the sadistic counselor (Michael Bowen) who keeps punishing him for cursing during therapy sessions—to make the bastard swear like a sailor stricken with Tourette's.

As played by newcomer Monty Lapica—who also wrote, directed and produced this semiautobiographical tale—Andrew is something of a smirking amalgam of Ferris Bueller and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 's Randle Patrick McMurphy, a too-cool-for-schooler whose not-exactly-harmless high jinks land him in an unconventional treatment facility where the only things more suspect than the staffers are the methods they employ. It's a precocious performance, although one with melodramatic moments that prevent Lapica from entirely dispelling the specter of vanity self-casting.

That same tendency toward melodrama ultimately undermines the emotional honesty that will pull audiences in initially, with Lapica shortchanging his closely observed drama about a bright teen who—unable to deal with the death of his beloved dad—resorts to self-medication with drinks and drugs by inserting a super-schmaltzy sequence in which Andrew has a breakthrough heart-to-heart with a random homeless man who turns out to be an angel. Not exactly helping matters is Lapica's overdependence on a skeleton key that magically unlocks any pair of handcuffs known to man and a tearful third-act soliloquy in which his character makes grandiose pledges to his dear ol' dead dad.

Despite the presence of such juvenilia, however, Self-Medicated is quite the calling card for an artist of ample promise.
Distributor: ThinkFilm
Cast: Monty Lapica, Diane Venora, Michael Bowen, Greg Germann and Kristina Anapau
Director/Screenwriter: Monty Lapica
Producers: Tommy Bell and Monty Lapica
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for substance abuse, language and some sexual material
Running time: 108 min.
Release date: August 31, 2007 ltd.
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