Celebrity Rehab – An Education

I’ve been on the fence about Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Is it really worth it for addicted celebrities or pseudo-celebrities to air their dirty laundry on a reality show for the sake of becoming sober? Does it really work? I have no answer.

What I can comment on, is that the man in charge, Dr. Drew Pinsky, cares for and talks to his patients with great deal of compassion and genuine concern. The humanity that he extends  makes everyone wish they have  such an advocate in their life – a powerful believer that pushes you to listen and believe that anything you set your mind to, you can and will accomplish.

Even with the most challenging participants, often detoxing from the most horrid of drugs for the first time in years, Dr. Pinsky and the dedicated staff at Pasadena Recovery Center, really seem to want the best from the rehabbers. The crap that Shelley, the resident tech, has to deal with (and clean up. Ick!) only convinces you that she’s in it for the long haul. That she believes her own recovery is dependent upon the success of others she cares for – that goes for all of them. She and her colleagues are truly invested.

But it’s the latest episode that makes me bring up this unusual show. In a private session, Dr. Drew counsels the alcohol and drug abuser Frankie Lons (mostly known for being the mom of singer Keshia Cole). In a most immature tantrum-like way, Frankie complains that everybody wants her to act her age – 50.  In a gentle, yet firm, manner, Drew conveys to Frankie that because of her years of abuse, her brain is stuck at the age of 20, when she began her bad habits. It is a fast, yet incredibly poignant moment, when the audience fully captures Frankie’s story. She is a female Peter Pan. She can’t grow up. She hasn’t learned how. Her actions are like an adolescent, because that’s all she knows. It is a piece of storytelling that cracks open the world of an addict and exposes a small glimpse to us non-abusers.  At the end, Drew (ever the advocate) encourages Frankie that her brain will learn to catch up.  The more she enters her sobriety, the more her brain will learn to be its true age. There is hope. There is progress. If she wants it.

Like I said, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for addicts to try to become sober in front of cameras. But I am moved by Frankie’s story. I am educated. And that should count for something.

Can I get an amen?

The Tourist & I Love You Phillip Morris – What’s with the voices??

I don’t like to talk about two movies in the same post, but I will make exception for The Tourist and I Love You Phillip Morris since they both suffer from the same problem – a totally distracting choice of voice by a lead actor.

The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp is a slow, boring ride. Directed by Henckel von Donnersmarck (say that fast five times), the movie does a lot to show off the city of Venice, but does nothing to propel the story or make its characters come alive. The most annoying thing is Angelina Jolie’s choice of voice for her supposedly tres elegant, mannerly character. The fake British accent is worse than the one she put on for Laura Croft. And her habit of setting her jaw tightly and looking off into the distance, beautifully of course, is becoming really, really old. Her reliance of her dazzling beauty to propel the story forward is a triumphant failure in this film. Unfortunately, Johnny Depp does very little to fix things. Its almost as if he’s recycling the same performance from The Ninth Gate and Secret Window. Perhaps the two were enjoying the Italian sites too much to bring their A-game to the film. Disappointing…incredibly disappointing. What makes the whole thing even more laughable is that both were nominated for Golden Globes – in the musical/comedy category!!!

Really? Hollywood Foreign Press??? Have you been smoking salvia with Miley Cyrus??

Now for I Love You Phillip Morris. Where The Tourist fails, this film succeeds. Steven Russell is a smart, yet slightly demented, con man brilliantly played by Jim Carey (the best performance by the strange funny man in years!) The plot is expertly written and directed with just the right amount twists and turns by the writer-directors Glenn Ficara and John Requa. Based on a true story, Russell is sent to jail and falls in love with a fellow inmate Phillip Morris (no relation to the tobacco company and played by Ewan McGregor).  Phillip Morris is a gentile gay Southern gentleman and the voice that McGregor chooses to use, much like his performance in Big Fish but with grander attempts of softness, sounds like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. I kept expecting Hoffman to show up in his Tootsie attire and demand McGregor to cease and desist.  It is so distracting, that you are removed from the film a little bit in the scenes where McGregor appears. But don’t let that keep you from seeing it. The long overdue performance from Carey makes it totally worth seeing.