directed by Sam Post
starring Hank West
There are a lot of junkies out there — coffee, cocaine, or fantasy football fills their odd moments to the detriment of real life. Darnell Shacklebee (West) finds his daily fix in psychotherapy. He got hooked in college, and he’s been through it all — Freudian and Jungian and Gestalt and E.S.T. Without much prompting, he’ll offer that all his problems arise from Mom, Dad, his brilliant siblings, abuse his grandparents suffered prior to his birth, and even the doctor he’s signed up to this week. He runs a little coffee shop, and during slow periods he gives his shop assistant (Beth Porter) monologues on how the world destroyed his self image. She ignores him and passes out double-reverse-mocha-what-the-hecks to customers from the psychologists’ convention up the street. Amazingly, all his ex-shrinks drop by and Darnell brings them up to date, even if that means chasing them down the street. His voyage of self-discovery feels becalmed and he has only the power of his lungs to fill his sails.
West’s goofy facial expressions recall Don Knotts’s goofiness welded onto an early angst-ridden Woody Allen. He’s a bit of a nudge, but likable enough as he recommends therapy to everyone he meets. When his first therapist, narcoleptic Dr. Winkerbloom (Mary Ann McCubbin), recognizes him, she looks like she was caught with toilet paper stuck to her shoe. Another striking scene occurs when his sex-maniac college roommate, Barry (Jonathan Coarsey), boots Darnell out of his own room for an impromptu quickie. Beth Porter doubles as his older sister, but seems much stiffer than in her role as barista.
This wryly amusing Indie film was shot in Charlotte, North Carolina in some rather impressive private residences, and is a very respectable first film by ex-tabloid writer Sam Post. Coffee Therapy retains an innocent charm reflecting its community theater roots. The director’s commentary reveals that it was originally a stage play and several of the stage actors reprise in the film version.
Will regular therapy heal your soul? It’s an expensive way to buy temporary friendship, and while it makes Darnell happy, neither he nor his wife ever seem to act on the advice. That’s for the best; I doubt a PhD gives you more insight than your aunt from Phoenix has. I see therapy as a hobby, like running marathons or building miniature furniture for doll houses or making a movie. It seems weird to outsiders, but once you’re fully involved, it brings its own fulfillment.
Coffee Therapy: www.coffeetherapy.net