Touchy Feely – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

In this Freaky Friday-esque film, a brother and sister swap characteristics which lead to a better life for him and a more difficult one for her.

Review (with Spoilers)

Between Ellen Page, Allison Janney, and Rosemarie DeWitt, you have a great filmography between the three in which you will likely find the best drama or comedy movies of the past few years; and between DeWitt and Janney, you’ll also find some of the best television of the past few years. Leading to the question of how come this film seemed to not really pop up anywhere? Is it simply that Magnolia Pictures wanted to focus on their other projects more, like Blackfish, or simply a general lack of interest? To find out if you should be interested in this movie, look below.

Characters & Story

In this awkward little family, Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist, who has an interest in alternative medicine; her brother Paul (Josh Pais), who at first meeting comes off as Abby’s father, is a dentist who speaks in monotone and is very plain; and then there is Paul’s daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) who simply is a young girl, likely fresh out of high school, who is unsure what to do with her life.

Leading to the main story which deals with Abby’s sudden phobia of being touched, or touching people, as her brother magically starts getting the healing touch. Something which turns his dying dental practice into the place many believe a miracle worker practices at. And while Abby adjusts to losing her ability to make people feel better, she has to deal with her boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy), who originally was supposed to be a rebound from her ex Adrian (Ron Livingston). Then, as for Paul, as he discovers the power of his touch can help people, he starts to meet more and more with Abby’s friend Browyn (Allison Janney) who teaches him Reiki, among other things. Leaving Jenny who pretty much spends most of the movie either working with her dad or wanting her aunt’s boyfriend.


When it comes to praise, the nicest thing I can say is that the aforementioned actresses, and their co-stars, seem to fit their characters well. DeWitt playing a normal woman put in a weird situation seems in her comfort zone; Page being a teen who is on the cusp of adulthood and unprepared for the burden seems like something she is comfortable with; and then Janney playing an sort of eccentric character who rolls with the punches, once more, seems like something she has done before and is very comfortable in doing again and again.


Problem with that is, with their performances all feeling like a character they have played before, and with them playing these new characters without enthusiasm, it makes for a rather boring watching experience. Something which isn’t helped by a story which never really explains why Abby gained her phobia of touching people, much less why Paul suddenly has magic fingers. There is no medium who makes them switch abilities, nor are there any concrete reasons. Then, when it comes to Paul, he is so boring that even as he meets with Browyn and tries to become a more interesting character, it feels more like a last ditch effort more than anything. Plus throughout the film I just felt like there was this big elephant in the room dealing with who in the world was Jenny’s mom and where did she go? Since Paul, in the state we meet him, honestly seems more realistic as a 50+ year old divorcee, with two kids, rather than a guy in his 40s who has Abby as his sister and Jenny as his daughter.

The story as a whole though does not in any way makeup for these dull characters unfortunately. For between the aforementioned switch, and then the personal drama, you are left wondering what is the point of the film, or the story they are trying to tell? With Abby’s relationship with both Jesse and Adrian, there doesn’t seem to be any real direction, conflict, much less resolution. Then, when it comes to Jenny, the whole her liking Jesse thing was very weird and it also felt a bit slapped together. Almost like they knew it should have been cut, but they wanted Ellen Page in the movie, so they threw something together so that the role was just big enough for her to justify showing up, learning her lines, and maybe mentioning the movie hopefully.


Skip It

I was meandering between saying this was “TV Viewing” or “Skip It” when I first started watching this, but as the plot continued on, no characters began to draw me into their drama, and the story showed that it was all downhill from the beginning, I honestly wanted to stop watching this movie. And even though I did finish it, I can’t honestly imagine this being worth more than background noise for a good Sunday nap. For while I like the female leads of the movie, and think they are brilliant, in each and every one of their filmographies you’ll find films like these which seem more made for them to say they were actively working than really part of something you can imagine them openly, and repeatedly, promoting.

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