Crazy as Hell

on September 27, 2002 by Dan Marchesani
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In the feature directorial debut of actor Eriq La Salle (TV's "ER"), Michael Beach plays Dr. Ty Adams, a somewhat imperious psychiatrist whose no-pill approach to healing has won him extensive admiration and attention, and who joins the staff of the Sedah State Mental Hospital with a documentary crew in tow to record his unique techniques. Before Adams can settle in and get comfy, however, a new patient (La Salle) who believes he's the devil starts rocking the boat. As Adams' relationship with the man intensifies, so do his visions of the wife and child he lost tragically a few years before, and he begins losing control over the methods he has popularized. No help during Adams' downward spiral are his skeptical supervisor (Ronny Cox), a well-intentioned orderly (Sinbad) and the documentary director (John C. McGinley) who takes great delight in his subject's gradual breakdown.

A conglomeration of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Fisher King," "Angel Heart" and even "The Shining," "Crazy As Hell"--adapted from Jeremy Leven's novel "Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S."--is a bit too derivative to stand on its own as the psychological thriller it purports to be. The patients are introduced in a carnival-esque steadicam shot a la Terry Gilliam's above-mentioned pic, La Salle's character borrows a little too much from DeNiro's take on the dark one in "Angel Heart" and Adams even recites a line directly from the same film. (Mickey Rourke spoke the line: "I know who I am.") It might be nothing more than a coincidence, but when the rest of the movie calls forth memories of flicks in similar genres, it's hard not to notice. Starring Michael Beach, Eriq La Salle, Ronny Cox and John C. McGinley. Directed by Eriq La Salle. Written by Erik Jendresen, Eriq La Salle and Butch Robinson. Produced by Butch Robinson, DJ Caruso, Ken Aguado and Eriq La Salle. An Artistic License release. Thriller. Rated R for some strong sexual content, violent images and language. Running time: 113 min.

Tags: Michael Beach, Eriq La Salle, Ronny Cox, John C. McGinley, Erik Jendresen, Butch Robinson, DJ Caruso, Ken Aguado, Artistic License, Thriller
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