Prozac Nation (2001)

DVD Cover (Miramax)
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Ranked #3,291
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Elizabeth is on the verge of losing her grip on life after she leaves her emotionally fraught home to start college. Quickly, her life takes a turn for the worse: She clashes with her roommate and decides her boyfriend, Rafe, is her sole salvation. Her psychiatrist prescribes Prozac... but is that her only choice? --TMDb
Review by Chad
Added: March 11, 2007
For the longest time, my computer ran slower than molasses when I did anything more than playing a game of Solitaire. You see, the problem here was that I really needed to catch up with the times and get a more modern system; with the exception of one minor upgrade along the way and a new DVD burner, I had been using this setup ever since Windows 98 was the newest thing on the market. Sure, I could play games that came out ages ago, but anything released within the last couple of years? Forget about it. Ripping and burning DVDs? I would have to leave it going overnight, because the fucking piece of goddamned shit was so fucking slow! I hated it! But then, I broke down and discussed my options with the computer-geek woman of the house, and she clued me in to this little site called Newegg.com, a site which would allow me to upgrade my computer to something much more powerful for a super-cheap price. Yes, I eventually went through Newegg.com and pieced together a new computer, and thanks to the fine folks over at Newegg.com, my computer runs much better now - so much better, in fact, that I was infinitely more productive with my work, and as a result, I now make more money. Thanks, Newegg.com!

Oh, I'm supposed to be writing the synopsis for Prozac Nation here instead of a blatant advertisement? Whoops, my apologies... I sort of got those two items mixed up, seeing as how they're pretty much the exact same thing. The real storyline centers around Elizabeth Wurtzel (Christina Ricci), a young lady who is heading to Harvard on a journalist scholarship. Elizabeth has a bright future ahead of her: Rolling Stone magazine is interested in hiring her on as a full-time writer, her mother (Jessica Lange) is both loving and supportive, she has great friends, and she's actually having fun at college. There's just one little snag in the story: Elizabeth suffers from depression. Her depression eventually overwhelms her to the point where she can't write anymore and she pushes all of her friends and family away, but with the help of her boyfriend Rafe (Jason Biggs), psychologist Dr. Sterling (Anne Heche), and a big bottle of Prozac, she eventually overcomes this condition and becomes an award-winning novelist.

Before anyone calls me insensitive to the very real condition known as depression, let me make it clear that I suffered through the same things that the character in this movie did at one point in my life. I'm not talking about the typical "My life sucks, I didn't get that snazzy new car for my birthday" teen angst - no, I'm referring to full-blown depression, complete with medication, trips to the doctor to talk out my problems, and everything else that comes with the territory. I've been there and I know how it feels, so I was definitely able to connect with the characters and storyline found within this film.

And you know what? For the most part, the writers and Mrs. Ricci accurately portrayed depression - the way it makes you feel, the emptiness inside, and the lack of motivation are all perfectly shown here and there were numerous times where I found myself thinking, "Yep, I know exactly how that feels." There's one exception to the rule though, and that exception is her profanity-laced outbursts designed to hurt those around her. I'm guessing here, but I'm thinking that this was added to spice things up for the movie adaptation; after all, who would want to watch an actress lay in bed and cry for ninety minutes? Regardless of how accurate that may be, I sure wouldn't pay money to watch it and I doubt that many other people would. So, the producers decided to spice things up (again, I'm guessing here) by throwing in random outbursts specifically designed to show us how horrible this woman is and how hurtful she can be. These outbursts are mostly limited to "I hate you!" or "Fuck you!", and while they do get the audience's attention, it's a completely unrealistic portrayal of depression. Bi-polar disorder, maybe... but it's far from depression, which was supposed to be the backbone of the film. This ends up turning us against the character due to her being such a whiny bitch instead of making us feel empathy for her - which was, I assume, the intention.

I could have easily overlooked this little flaw in the movie; after all, it's far from being the focal point of the story, and I realize that certain things would need to be changed for the big screen in order to keep the audience from falling asleep. This was a distraction, but I became fully engrossed in the story thanks to the otherwise perfect portrayal of the condition and the great performances from all involved. Christina Ricci is great as always, Jessica Lange is downright heartbreaking, and even though I'll always think of him as "that guy that fucked a pie", Jason Biggs turned in a good performance as well. As I was saying, I could have overlooked the one flaw had it not been for one thing: the ending.

According to IMDb, this movie clocks in at 95 minutes. I assume that includes the credits as well (I didn't watch the clock), but for the sake of argument, let's just say that we're watching the final frames of the film at the 95 minute mark. For the first 93 minutes of the movie, we watch this story unfold, become attached to the characters, and genuinely look forward to seeing what sort of conclusion caps off the experience. Will she succumb to depression and end up in the loony bin, or worse, killing herself? Or, will she overcome it and move on with her life? The latter is what occurs right around the 93 minute mark, and I have no problems with a happy ending, but it's the way that it's handled that pissed me off so much. You see, her psychologist recommends that she take Prozac, she does so, and then... "I'm all better now, and I went on to make a billion dollars from my writing ability - life is great!" Over the course of two movie-minutes, this woman went from standing in a bathroom moments away from taking her own life to smiling and being completely happy with life... all thanks to Prozac. This bullshit ending made me realize that this movie wasn't made for entertainment or artistic purposes: it was made to promote Prozac and show how a couple of pills can completely solve all of your problems. Life doesn't work that way, and I feel insulted that someone out there thought that we, the movie-viewing audience, would swallow this.

I enjoyed the vast majority of the film, but those final two minutes just completely shit over everything that had preceded them. I'm going to go with what is probably too high of a rating here thanks to the excellent work throughout the film, but again, this ending was so wretched that I simply can't recommend this film in good conscience. There's a reason this sat on the shelf for so long before reaching the masses, and I wouldn't doubt for a second that the ending was solely responsible for that decision. Therefore, 3/10, with at least a solid third of that going to Christina Ricci's nude scene.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 03/11/2007, 11:51 AM
I find it interesting her nudes didn't make it to the stills.
For shame.
And I totally agree, this movie stunk, but Ricci's gorgeous, and her nude scene more than made up for it.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 03/13/2007, 01:16 PM
Yuck. This movie was delayed for a reason. I remember seeing it, hating it, and forgetting it. Thanks for the painful memories. 1/10.
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 03/14/2007, 12:29 AM
As usual when going from book to movie, things get the lost in translation. I haven't read the book, but I'm assuming it got rushed. The movie doesnt end on an happy note, it's actually kind of bleak. The drug is helping her, but at the same time she doesn't know who she is anymore. She's lost her entire identity. Also, what you call "loving and supporting" I call mindnumbingly overbearing. At any rate, while it does tend to drag a bit towards the end I thought it was pretty good. Worth a rental at least.
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