Review by Sean Boelman
An adaptation of the book by Nancy Doyne, Bad Therapy is a new dark comedy exploring the troubles that couples can face in marriage. However, because of its unusual tone, the film isn’t able to take full advantage of its unique premise, playing out like an off-putting blend of earnest drama and wacky comedy.
The film follows a couple who seeks out help from a counselor for their failing marriage, only to discover that their therapist has some dark secrets of her own. There’s definitely something intriguing about a story in which someone who should be extraordinarily trustworthy people turns out to be even more problematic, yet it doesn’t pay off in this case.
Instead, Doyne (adapting her own novel) plays too heavily on unsatisfying cliches. The first thirty or so minutes of the film will hook the viewer into the character elements of the story, but the film loses its momentum after the big twist at the end of the first act. The film then transitions from a character-driven dramedy to a straight-up comedy, and it is far less effective.
One of the best things about Doyne adapting her own material is that the film feels surprisingly cohesive. There’s a clear vision as to what the film needs to be, but the unfortunate fact is that this vision doesn’t work. The film is far too exaggerated and over-the-top for it to be believable or have any real emotional impact.
The other thing about this film that is disappointing is its character development. For a film about a relationship in turmoil, one would think that the arc would be dominant, and that is the case for the first act. But when the film makes that change, these elements of the film are pushed to the back burner in favor of more direct comedy.
Regardless, the cast all do a solid job in their roles. Alicia Silverstone, Rob Coddry, and Michaela Watkins all have great comedic timing that lends itself to the film very well. Silverstone and Coddry have great chemistry together, which makes the relationship aspect of the film work, and Watkins gives an admirably hammy turn.
On a technical level, the film is mostly straightforward. William Teitler is a competent filmmaker, and everything about the execution is well-done, if a little safe. That said, it would have been nice had Teitler added a bit of stylistic flair to the film. Doyne’s script obviously wants to lean into the darker elements of the story, so Teitler could have let those elements run free.
Bad Therapy is certainly an interesting film, although its ambition doesn’t always work as well as one would hope. It would have been better with a more serious tone, but there are still some very funny moments.
Bad Therapy hits VOD on April 17.