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"The Treatment"



Video stores are filled with comedies characterizing psychiatrists, but "The Treatment" has its own take. Jake Singer (Chris Eigeman) would appreciate the silent, opinionless soundboards mocked in Woody Allen movies. But he's unlucky enough to have found a shrink (Ian Holm) with an opinion, and a slight mean streak, who tells him that when he couches a sentence with "I guess," it's his way of "protecting his testicles so they won't be cut off."

The doc is helping Jake deal with maladies common among middle-aged males -- overcoming estrangement from his ex (Stephanie March), standing up to his disingenuous boss (Roger Rees) and making the right moves on the beautiful new "dowager" (Famke Janssen) in town. "That is such an antiquated term!" Jake contends, a line only Eigman, who cut his teeth as a smart-mouthed dandy in Whit Stillman comedies, could deliver.

Overall Eigeman isn't quite right as Jake, who's much too sincere, though for a while the part is moored in solid ground. "The Treatment," co-written and directed by Oren Rudavsky, based on the book by Daniel Menaker, shows adult male life as a minefield of power, paranoia and pride, and takes it on with an interesting setup. The good doc will make Jake his special project, pluck out his inner alpha male, help him overcome the domineering practices of those above him in his tribe and show him how to win the prize female in the process.

This is the way things proceed until a surprising third act, in which Jake finds not where cojones lie, but how to kowtow to an arch social services matron. There are still some charming and funny moments to be had, and it's cheap therapy if all you're in for is some romance and a happy ending. But "The Treatment," dazed like it took a Xanax before it finished its story, might leave you wanting another, more intense session. (NR)

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