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flick pick | Schizopolis 1996
Directed + written by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Steven Soderbergh, Betsy Brantley, David Jensen, Mike Malone
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: mind-bending, witty
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Fletcher Munson spends his day procrastinating in a small office cubicle where he works for the corporation founded by renowned self-help guru T. Azimuth Schwitters, founder of a movement called Eventualism. When one of his co-workers suddenly drops dead at a drugstore, Fletcher finds himself with a promotion -- and the responsibility of crafting a very important speech for Shwitters himself. He uses his new added work stress as an excuse for acting emotionally distant towards his wife, which is why it's no surprise when it turns out his wife is having an affair. What's weird is that the guy she's involved with? He looks exactly like Fletcher, or maybe he is Fletcher, except his name's Jeffrey Korchek, and he's a jogging-suit-sporting, Musak-loving dentist. When Mrs. Munson finally gets the guts to leave Fletcher for Jeffrey, however, the womanizing dentist informs her that he's just met someone else. He calls her Attractive Woman #2, and she looks exactly like Fletcher's wife. Meanwhile, there's a nutso externimator named Elmo Oxygen who runs around town seducing all the housewives with his own particular brand of crazy-speak. Elmo strings together adjectives and nouns that you recognize as stemming from the English language, but in a way that conforms to no known rules of grammatical structure. It's apparently irresistible to all womankind. But when two strangers approach him one day with a proposition for a mysterious and important new gig, Elmo finds a new mission for his life.

Review Trying to summarize Schizopolis' plot is a little like trying to explain your dreams to people: you start off totally excited about it and as you go along, you realize that what you're saying is both a thoroughly accurate description of what progressed, and completely nonsensical at the same time. The thing is, there really is a logic to Schizopolis' world; it's just not the same logic that defines real world life. You sort of have to let go for a little bit if you really want to understand what's going on, to stop thinking in terms of cause and effect, and concentrate instead on the things that come up again and again. Schizopolis is basically divided into three acts, with each one telling the same story from the perspective of three different characters, Fletcher, Dr. Korchek, and Mrs. Munson. With each retelling, we get a better understanding of what's going on, and start to see that there's a central idea about the failings of communication that unites the movie's many seemingly random scenes. Anyone hoping to get the sure-handed, easy-to-swallow storytelling of Soderbergh's later movies, like Erin Brockovich or Ocean's 11, are probably smart to steer clear of this twitchy little film experiment. Schizopolis is determinedly hard-to-follow, very low-budget, and self-consciously bizarre, and if that's not your thing, it's understandable. But Schizopolis also happens to be incredibly funny, eminently quotable, snappily-paced, and deliriously original, all of which combine to make it the first Soderbergh film that I've genuinely loved. Most importantly, it's just tongue-in-cheek enough to occasionally poke fun at its own artsy pretensions. For anyone who likes a movie that demands an open mind as much as open eyes, Schizopolis is really a whole lot of fun. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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