A shrink and wannabe self-help superstar with serious psychological problems runs amuck in "The Rose Technique," which is buoyed by JoBeth Williams' evident enjoyment of central role's excesses. John C. Scheide's feature never quite seizes the potential for full-on "Stepfather" thrills or "Serial Mom"-style black comedy.

A shrink and wannabe self-help superstar with serious psychological problems runs amuck in “The Rose Technique,” which is buoyed by JoBeth Williams’ evident enjoyment of central role’s excesses. John C. Scheide’s feature never quite seizes the potential for full-on “Stepfather” thrills or “Serial Mom”-style black comedy, leaving pic diverting but too mild. Modest, slick package will find natural berth in TV sales and on rental shelves.

Fired from her radio call-in show in northernmost California, Dr. Lillian Rose (Williams) takes voluminous ego and self-empowerment “Rose Technique” — which ominously urges clients: “Root out and eliminate dead wood” — to Los Angeles. Anticipated fame proves elusive, however, so she must settle for teaching at a community college where some impressionable students fall under her sway. Others are skeptical, though, and Doc’s “tough love” methodology begins levying rather heavy fines on foes. (They get baseball-batted unconscious, then lose offending body parts to her garden pruning shears.) Script’s logic gaps wouldn’t trouble if they whipped macabre premise to a fine froth, but self-help satire is soft, and stagy lecture hall climax is dull. Still, Williams’ zest and a conventionally glossy production make “Technique” painless B-fare.

The Rose Technique

Production

A Forsyth Films production. Produced by Ray Stroeber. Co-producer, Marshall Nord. Directed by John C. Scheide. Screenplay, Ray Stroeber.

Crew

Camera (color), Mark Woods; editor, Keith Henderson; music, Ken Mazur; production designer, Leora Lutz. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose. Feb. 24, 2002. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

JoBeth Williams, Sally Kirkland, Jason Brooks, Kari Wuhrer, Leo Rossi, Peter Jason, Robert Costanzo, Gibby Brand, Sage Kirkpatrick, Anicka Haywood, Denice Duff, Nicolas Read, Kevin Brief.

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