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Numb

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A writer suffering myriad psychological ills tries to straighten himself out and win back the girl he loves.

Genre - Comedy

Director(s) - Harris Goldberg

Writer(s) - Harris Goldberg

Cast - Matthew Perry, Lynn Collins, Kevn Pollak, Mary Steenburgen

Blue Rider's Role - Provided acquisition funds

Distributor(s) - Fries Film Group

Release Date - 2007

Synopsis - Matthew Perry plays a screenwriter who never writes and who suffers from a basketfull of psychological problems, including obsessive compulsion, kleptomania and acute depersonalization disorder: a condition so alienating that it makes the chronically depressed look perky. Due to this malady, he feels disconnected from his own body and everything around him.

When he falls for a terrific girl, he puts himself through every single therapy in the book in order to win her love. But his inability to cover up his constant stealing puts their relationship in jeopardy. He goes to see another in a long line of psychiatrists, and she seems to be helping him--but she seduces him instead, and them becomes obsessed with him.

Desperate to get his woman back, he self medicates with marijuana--to no avail. Jailed for stealing sneakers, he meets a homeless guy inside and has an epiphany--which gives him the idea for a successful movie pitch--landing him a dream job with George Lucas. He begins giving to others, and his depersonalization disorder ends, enhancing his chances of winning back the girl.

Awards:
Numb won the audience award at the Chicago GenArt Film Festival in early July, 2007. At the 2008 Park City Music Festival, Ryan Shore won the Gold Medal for Excellence for scoring Numb and three other films.

Film Festival Screenings
Numb screened at New York City's Tribeca Film Festival in April 2007, at the Cannes Film Market in May 2007 and also at the Drake International Film Festival (Italy), the Cinequest-Sudbury International Film Festival (Ontario, Canada), the Ojai Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival the Hollywood Film Festival, the AFI Film Festival, the 2008 Sedona International Film Festival and the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Release Data:
Numb was released in the U.K. on June 14, 2008. It made its U.S. DVD premiere on May 13, 2008. It had a limited Canadian release on April 18, came out on German DVD on Nov. 14 and bowed on Hungarian TV on Nov. 15.

DVD Rentals
As of June 1, in its third week of DVD release, Numb ranked #27 on the rental charts (down from #18 the week before), having brought in $6 million.

Critics' Kudos:
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: "Some viewers are likely to identify with the existential angst experienced by lead character Hudson Milbank (Matthew Perry). He does make some progress with a shrink (Mary Steenburgen, giving a very funny performance), only to discover, when she becomes romantically obsessed with him, that she's even crazier than he is.

"Things start to change for Hudson when he meets beautiful Sara (Lynn Collins), whose easygoing ways and generous spirit help bring him out of his shell. Perry is generally more successful with the comedic than dramatic demands of the material. He scores every laugh that's expected, and more."

Jen Johans, Film Intuition: "Featuring a pitch-perfect performance by Matthew Perry in a role that seems completely tailor-made for the star, given his incredible talent for dialogue and self-deprecation, Goldberg admirably fills in the rest of the script with equally involving characters.

"We realize that the talented filmmaker has much more to offer than his previous lowbrow credits. Given the maturity and well-earned laughs from this completely human script, it's safe to say that we can look forward to other movies from Goldberg that--if he manages to stay as close to his heart as he did with this deeply personal tale--are sure to garner him more fans in the world of independent film."

Stuart O'Connor, Screen Jabber: "Matthew Perry was easily the best actor of the three blokes in Friends (Lisa Kudrow was the best of the three girls). He's been trying to break free of Chandler's shackles ever since the show ended, and if this decent little black comedy is anything to go by, he's succeeded.

"Movies that try to portray a psychological problem don't always work, but thanks to a decent script from Goldberg and some terrific acting all round, this one does. Also adding to the mix is a great chemistry between the two leads. Hudson's attempts to turn his life around and win her back are enough to keep us watching, thanks to Perry's excellent low-key performance. This is not your standard romantic comedy, and for that alone it's worth a look."

Jason P. Vargo, DVD Town: "A fun little movie featuring an excellent performance from Perry and solid supporting turns by everyone around him. Equal parts humorous, romantic and even a bit sad, it proves the leading man is more than the role we all know him for. When the camera is pushed up close to Perry, allowing him to work in a comedy sub-genre, he is able to display a depth of emotion we´re not used to seeing with him. Here is a man desperate to find out what is wrong, to make his life complete and, ostensibly, grow up.

"None of the rest of the cast is more compelling than Mary Steenburgen in a 'When Harry Met Sally'-ish restaurant scene near the end of the film. Her therapist-turned-romantic partner for Hudson provides some of the best laugh lines--especially considering that her signature scene was improvised. Kevin Pollack works nicely as a compliment to Perry.

"Then there´s Lynn Collins as the love interest Sarah. A relative newcomer, she successfully imbues the character with equal parts naivete and an off-beat attitude, making it easy to see why Hudson falls for her. With every curse word which comes out of her mouth, Collins is able to endear Sarah to us even more. I can´t put my finger on exactly why it works that way; it just does.

"The 1.781:1 anamorphic transfer looks rather good, without a hint of the normal issues associated with lower-budget productions. Blacks are deep while every other color is well rendered. Outdoor scenes look quite natural. Indoor shots aren´t over-lit and appear natural.

"Of the Extras, The jewel in the crown is the commentary with Harris Goldberg. He rarely stops speaking for the entire 93-minute running time, imparting stories from the set (Steenburgen insisted she do her sex scene topless), directing (he continually asked Perry to ratchet down the comedy) and realism (people on set wanted to cover up running mascara when Sarah cries; he fought to keep it). Goldberg is an engaging speaker.

David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews: "Numb stands out as a refreshingly innovative spin on a contemporary romantic comedy, as writer/director Harris Goldberg infuses the film's primary relationship with a distinctly authentic vibe - something that stems primarily from Perry and Collins' undeniably charismatic work as the central characters (ie these two have genuine chemistry with one another). Numb generally succeeds as an intimate look at one man's struggle with mental illness."

Sky Movies Review: "The well-adjusted cast keep wackiness under control in an offbeat romance blessed with moments of comic clarity. Perry and Company maintain the congenial atmosphere to ensure that Numb won’t leave you on a downer.

Viewers' Ratings:
Of the 2,832 viewers who had rated Numb at The Internet Movie Database through Feb. 25, 2009, more than 84.8% of them gave it positive ratings, the overall average rating was 7.3 out of 10 and 17.2% rated it a perfect 10. All demographic groups gave it thumbs-up, with the most enthusiastic being boys age 17 and younger (who rated it 7.7 out of 10), people 18-29 (7.2) and females 18-44 (6.9).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Harris Goldberg (feature debut; directed shorts Les Boys, Love Conquers Paul and Where’s Angelo?)

Written by Harris Goldberg (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, Without a Paddle, Master of Disguise, I’ll Be Home for Christmas).

Stars Matthew Perry (won TV Guide Award for Friends; 16 nominations for that film, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Ron Clark Story and The West Wing; appeared in The Whole Nine Yards, The Whole Ten Yards, The Kid, Three to Tango, Fools Rush In, She's Out of Control, Almost Heroes, Serving Sara, 238 episodes of Friends, 22 episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, 21 episodes of Second Chance, 13 episodes of Sydney, 13 episodes of Home Free and 31 other movies and TV projects; Kevin Pollak (won National Board of Review award for The Usual Suspects; nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Blockbuster Entertainment Award for End of Days; Satellite Award nom for From the Earth to the Moon; appeared in Casino, A Few Good Men, The Whole Nine Yards, Avalon, Grumpy Old Men, Hostage, Willow, She's All That, Wayne's World 2, L.A. Story, nine episodes of Shark, six episodes of The Drew Carey Show and 63 other movies and TV projects; Lynn Collins (nominated for Best Supporting Actress Golden Satellite Award for The Merchant of Venice; appeared in 50 First Dates, The Lake House, The Number 23, 13 Going on 30, Bug and Down With Love, five episodes of Haunted and three episodes of True Blood) and Mary Steenburgen (won Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe for Melvin and Howard; won best actress Saturn Award for Time After Time; nominated for Golden Globes for Ragtime and Goin’ South; seven other awards and seven more nominations for works including Tender is the Night, Back to the Future Part III, Wish You Were Dead, The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank, One Magic Christmas, Joan of Arcadia and About Sarah; appeared in Philadelphia, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Elf, I am Sam, The Brave One, Life as a House, Parenthood, Inland Empire, Nixon, 45 episodes of Joan of Arcadia, 26 episodes of Back to the Future, 22 episodes of Ink and 43 other movies and TV projects).

Cast includes Helen Shaver (won Canadian Film Awards best actress honor for In Praise of Older Women; won four other awards and five more noms for works including Summer's End, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Just Cause, The Outer Limits and Lost; appeared in The Color of Money, The Amityville Horror, The Osterman Weekend, The Craft, The Land Before Time, Best Defense, The Believers, The Men's Club, 33 episodes of Poltergeist: The Legacy, 14 episodes of WIOU, four episodes of Hill Street Blues and 68 other movies and TV projects); Bob Gunton (JFK, The Shawshank Redemption, The Perfect Storm, Glory, Born on the Fourth of July, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Fracture, Demolition Man, I Heart Huckabees, 28 episodes of 24, 13 episodes of Greg the Bunny, 11 episodes of Courthouse, 10 episodes of Desperate Housewives, nine episodes of Peacemakers, seven episodes of Hothouse and 83 other movies and TV projects); William B. Davis (three SAG Award noms for The X-Files; Best Actor at the Nickel Independent Film and Video Festival for Polished; appeared in Look Who's Talking, The Dead Zone, Kingdom Hospital, Unforgettable, It, Messengers, 37 episodes of The X Files, 10 episodes of Robson Arms and 82 other movies and TV projects; and Benjamin Ratner (five awards and four nominations for works including The Collector, Last Wedding, Dirty, Moving Malcom and Looking for Leonard; appeared in Wrongfully Accused, Agent Cody Banks, A Guy Thing, Man About Town, Gray Matters, Kingdom Hospital, Firestorm, 13 episodes of Da Vinci's City Hall and 67 other movies and TV projects).

Executive Producers: Paul Schiff (Maid in Manhattan, Rushmore, Mona Lisa Smile, The Air I Breathe, My Cousin Vinny, Young Guns, Walking Tall, Bushwhacked, Epic Movie and Date Movie); Mary Aloe (Downtown: A Street Tale, Geraldo, The Princess & the Marine, Battle in Seattle); Michael Baker (Young People Fucking, Pigs, Farce of the Penguins, Weirdsville, Everything's Gone Green) and Matthew Perry (The End of Steve).

Produced by Kirk Shaw (Leo Award noms for Battle in Seattle and Secret Files of the Inquisition; also produced Blonde and Blonder, Alien Agent, Third Man Out, Pursued, Double Cross, Canes, Secret Lies, 22 episodes of Blood ties, 13 episodes of Under One Roof, five episodes of Painkiller Jane and 99 other movies and TV projects).

Original Music by Ryan Shore (won awards for scoring Numb, Cadaverous, Senki, The Girl Next Door, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher; also scored Prime, Vulgar and Harvard Man).

Cinematography by Eric Steelberg (Juno, Quinceañera, In God We Trust, Consent, Little Sister and The Hand Job).

Film Editing by Jeff Wishengrad (Waking the Dead, The Singing Detective, The Chocolate War, Sorority House Massacre, Wuthering Heights).

Production Design by Phil Schmidt (six top Canadian award noms for Chaindance, My American Cousin, Pursued and Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Mork & Mindy"; also designed American Boyfriends, The Amy Fisher Story, Snake Eater, For All Time, Anything for Love and 39 other movies and TV projects).

Costume Designer: Roger J. Forker (What Love Is, The Learning Curve, Do it for Uncle Manny and Cruel Game).

Special Effects Coordinator: Brant McIlroy (Scary Movie, Scary Movie 3, Taken, Alien Agent, Catwoman, I'll See You in my Dreams, Civic Duty and 22 episodes of Blood Ties).

Visual Effects Supervisor: Richard Mintak (Veiled Truth, Captive Hearts, Third Man Out, Purued, Deep Evil, Young Blades, Eve's Christmas and eight episodes of Blood Ties) and Jaison Stritch (won Emmy for Asteroid; nominated for another Emmy for Race Against Time;also did visual effects for 40 Days and 40 Nights, Pirates of Silicon Valley, The Guru, Moll Flanders, Sisters and 58 other movies and TV projects).

Writer-Director Quotes:
Harris Goldberg: "The film is autobiographical. Many years ago I suffered from what research later taught me was a mental condiction called 'depersonalization'--a feeling of being disconnected from everything. It's a sort of unreal, dream-like state where you feel like you are watching yourself and everything that happens to you. It's an offshoot of anxiety.

"After writing a number of studio movies I decided it would be cathartic to write about this experience. And I was very lucky to get Matthew--whom I call 'my Gregory Peck'--to play the lead role. I was proud of his performance. It's like having your kid hit a home run in the championship baseball game."

Quotes From Star Matthew Perry:
"It was a very collaborative movie and Harris really knew what he wanted, but was open to others' ideas. He had written the script and I trusted him.

"I was kind of scared doing this movie, because the role was a lot more internal than others I had played. I was making all the big acting choices and Harris kept telling me to do less and less and less--to the point where for most of the movie I felt like I was doing nothing, and that was he wanted. I was nervous, because I have learned all these tricks and ways to entertain, but I left those behind. So if it didn't work, it's his fault (laughs)."
















Links:
Internet Movie Database entry for Numb

Trailer at Moviecentre

Soundtrack review

Soundtrack information

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