Dropped right into the credits, complete with distorted, kaleidoscopic images, abrupt cuts from color to black-and-white, and a warbly electronic theme song. We've got perspective shifts, we've got blurring, we've got doubling, we've got insinuating music; setting the stage for an incisive look into the minds of the mentally disturbed, or an edgy Gap commercial?
It's time for "Group," according to the title screen, where Dr. Neil Harrison (Martin Donovan) is leading a handful of patients in a discussion of "behavior that would confuse or frighten your loved ones." Confusing and frightening loved ones is, of course, a bad and naughty thing to do, and repeated indulgence in one of the two is sure to land one in the booby hatch. One patient reveals, "Sometimes I'll slap at someone, or stomp on their heads or something with my foot if I'm angry." In my book, stomping on someone's head would likely do more than confuse or frighten; I think we've moved well beyond that to "severely damage or maybe kill." Wow, crazy people are dangerous. Dr. Neil here employs years of crack medical education to opine that yes, in fact, violent behavior would be confusing or frightening to loved ones. Thanks for clarifying. "Anybody else?" asks level-headed Dr. Neil. "Bernard, what do you think?" Bernard, an older African-American gentleman, doesn't think much, apparently; after a few tormented stutters from Bernard, another patient breaks in, informing the gang, "I love my wife. You should never hurt, frighten, hit anybody. Be kind." Aha! Wife beater in Chair Four. Taking Wife-Beater's remarks as a personal attack, Head-Stomper blurts, "I am kind," and then proceeds to explain that part of sanity is listening to other people (of course, that's what drives many perfectly normal people round the bend in the first place). Predictably, Group then devolves into a shouting match, with Head-Stomper ranting about "tweety birds," "butt smacking," and "very bad manners" while Wife-Beater admonishes him for being "sensitive" and the rest of the patients sit around looking amused or, umm, disturbed. Dr. Neil, looking calm, cool, and collected (and just a little superior), observes this loopy microcosm of society, complete with conflict, miscommunication, and loud, annoying, opinionated people.
Now, says the title screen, it is "Morning." New York City, 7 AM. Kids sleeping. Older guy ambles into the bathroom and looks in the mirror, perturbed. Cut to young couple making sweet, sweet love. Cut to woman stepping on bathroom scale. Cut to sweet, sweet love. Cut to dog making whiny, panty noises in time with sweet, sweet love. Cut to scale and woman gasping, hand over mouth, as it hits 140. Cut to apparent culmination of sweet, sweet love. Cut to Staten Island Ferry. Enough with the jump cuts -- this morning sucks.