Scatterbrained Therapy

Terrorism on American soil has stirred a lot of feelings in people, and those feelings have been expressed in many ways, from politics to the arts, and Justice is neither the first nor the last attempt to sort through it all on film.

Drew (Erik Palladino of ER) is a mediocre comic book writer in NYC who, struggling for his own sense of meaning, decides to celebrate everyday heroes by creating a series based on an actual person. He wants to inspire people by showing how they can make a difference in people's lives. Finding the right person proves difficult, but at a pickup basketball game, Drew finds a substitute teacher with an impressive physique (apparently a prerequisite for being drawn in a comic). But Drew sees how his probing questions put off this fellow, so doesn't bother telling him that he's been selected. Not that anyone would be able to tell it was him from the transition to a caped vigilante named Justice. The comic is a surprise hit, and Drew gets uncomfortable when a pretty writer from the Village Voice starts coming around asking for an interview with the real-life inspiration for the character.

Two other subplots involve an Indian vending cart operator (Ajay Naidu) whose bagel supply inexplicably dries up, and a social worker fighting for funding from the Giuliani administration. The plots are eventually tied together, but the result is messy, a jigsaw puzzle hammered together for a particular effect. We are kept in suspense for nearly the entire film for why these other stories continue to interrupt the main plot, only to find the explanation so dripping in its own sense of being meaningful that it results in quite the opposite effect.

I would call the film a comedy, though it treads through some dark emotional territory. Drew eventually finds he has to sort through his own unresolved anger, and the comic is really a confused and muddled expression of that. The script is adept at keeping these feelings underneath the plot until they are ready to come out. If only such balance could have been applied to the subplots, we might have something remarkable on our hands.

Like the comic featured within, the film is an attempt to express unresolved feelings. But unfortunately, in the same way as the main character, the resolution evades us, leaving us frustrated more at the film than the events it is based upon.

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