Where I watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description?: Yes
I am a really big fan of Jonah hill. it’s the entire reason I watched this documentary produced and directed by him, because I was really interested in this story I thought he was going to tell. Then, I saw Stutz, and I really don’t know how to feel about it, grade it, talk about it, recommend it, or anything.
Stutz is the last name of Jonah hill’s therapist. For those paying attention, hill has been struggling with things for a while, losing and gaining and losing weight, and most recently announcing he wouldn’t be promoting any of his films from here on out. Press tours are too stressful for his mental health. So, the guy behind the curtain is a lovely old guy with a nice sense of humor, and the documentary’s namesake.
The problem is that hill chose to make this film in the weirdest way possible. He’s also in the documentary, so even though Hill proclaims that the documentary is supposed to be about Stutz and his methods, his backstory, and hill’s attempt to get this out to the world, it ends up being several sessions with Stutz, and suddenly I feel like I’m reviewing Jonah Hill’s therapy, or his mental health.
And, to make things even weirder, hill openly addresses his knowledge of this phenomenon within the film. he states that he’s worried that he’s pulling focus, which he is. He also decides, for whatever reason, to explain the magic trick, and reveal that the documentary isn’t being shot in an office, and these aren’t compiled from many sessions, but rather he’s on a set.
Jonah hill built a set for a documentary. I don’t know why. Documentaries for years have just captured life as it is where it takes place. here, he has tried to mimic Stutz’s office, and is proud of his green screen. I think the film would have been stronger if hill had taken himself out of the film entirely, and allowed Stutz to just communicate with us, or even a lesser known figure. I’m sure he has other fans/clients, and hill could have used any of them. Instead, he sucks up all the oxygen, and talks about fabricating things like his hairstyle (he’s wearing a wig for a while because he changed his hair, but this documentary took forever to shoot).
And this delightful Mr rogers that hill has found to be his therapist is also suffering from Parkinson’s. There was a moment where Stutz talks about his struggle with Parkinson’s and his inability to really get out of bed due to reduced motor function, and how much effort it takes, and hill tries equating his depression and inability to get out of bed to his own doctor’s physical decline. here’s the thing, Jonah. Stutz may be able to give you all the tools to keep you out of those dark places, and reset your brain to where you can find happiness and enjoy life, but your doctor will still have a debilitating illness with no cure. There is no Stutz equivalent for him. So, trying to say your thing is like his thing, is just kind of really bringing this whole thing back around to being about you.
I’d follow Jonah hill just about anywhere. But, this is a weird film. It’s not what Hill says he wants it to be, and he acknowledges within the context of the film on camera his failings. yet, when it came time to try and edit this into something, he kept the film with tons of footage centered around him. There’s even a point where hill’s mother enters the frame. how is this supposed to be about Stutz?
As far as the audio description goes, someone collected an easy paycheck. I didn’t even bother with the info at the end, because the audio description is barely there. And, there’s not a fault of the narration team either. this film is just structured in such a limited, rather uneventful back and forth conversation, that for really long periods, nothing changes. Remember, hill went out of his way to build a set so the scene can’t change, and he went out of his way to find a way to not change his appearance. So a film that is really just two guys in a room talking, like a therapy session actually is, really just is that. That’s all it is. At a certain point, there really isn’t anything left to describe, unless you want to painstakingly pay attention to facial expressions. I’m not sure we needed that here. Any more intrusion of the description on a film that feels like the lost Jonah hill tapes, like a film someone would make if Jonah had an untimely death, is just limited in scope to begin with, and something you feel like just needs to sit and be heard.
Somewhere in here, Hill is letting us know he’s Ok, and it’s because of this guy. But this is a very complicated film, and I have very mixed feelings essentially judging hill’s therapy. But, that is what I do I guess. Even when the film is barely a film.
Final Grade: C-