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TOUCHY FEELY (director/writer: Lynn Shelton; screenwriter: ; cinematographer: Benjamin Kasulke; editor: Lynn Shelton; music: Vinny Smith; cast: Rosemarie DeWitt (Abby), Ellen Page (Jenny), Allison Janney (Bronwyn), Ron Livingston (Adrian), Scoot McNairy (Jesse), Josh Pais (Paul), Tomo Nakayama (Henry); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Steven Schardt; Magnolia Pictures; 2012)
“About as much fun as a dental visit.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bloody-awful healing New Age comedy that’s written-directed-edited by Lynn Shelton(“Your Sister’s Sister”/”Humpday”). It’s about as much fun as a dental visit. The unevenly directed dramedy never hits any depth or insights or much comedy, as it’s filled with too many awkward scenes for the serviceable performances by the talented cast to overcome. It shows a materially comfortable professional family unraveling and losing energy, and trying to re-connect with themselves with alternative healing processes.

The pic is set in Seattle, Shelton’s hometown. The uptight single parent, Paul (Josh Pais), an uninspiring dentist, lives with his peppy high school senior student daughter Jenny (Ellen Page), in the house of his deceased parents. Paul’s younger massage therapist sister Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) visits for dinner with her nice guy bike shop owner rebound boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy), and Jesse surprises everyone by asking Abby to move in with him and give up her expensive apartment.

During a self-exam in the toilet, before a massage treatment, Abby is grossed out by her skin and suddenly develops an aversion to touching skin. This bodes badly for both b.f. Jesse and her massage business. Meanwhile the rigid and emotionless Paul suddenly, without an explanation, develops the ability to relieve pain from his patients and by word of mouth his struggling business thrives. Abby’s spiritual mentor, Bronwyn (Allison Janney), is called upon by Abby to help the sibs get rid of their frustrating problems. Soon Abby hooks up again with her former alcoholic flame Adrian (Ron Livingston, DeWitt’s real-life husband) after taking the Ecstasy tablet given her by her mentor as a cure-all. The pic seems to lose its touch at this point to connect with viewers and as Paul receives such treatment it wallows in showing off Reiki, as if an infomercial, to be a successful holistic relaxing technique used by the Japanese, . Also Jenny, anxious to be on her own, is rejected by Jesse and as result begins dating Henry (Tomo Nakayama)–a Japanese singer her dad cured of his pain and allowed him to restart his singing career.

This pic has a false ring. It goes down the tubes when its holistic guru advocates taking atablet of Ecstasy for self-discovery or in believing that a Reiki treatment is a slam-dunk to get you feeling relaxed again (I think a person’s issues with mental health are usually more complex than a session of Reiku can cure forever).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”