Stutz 2022 Movie Review
Jonah Hill’s therapy movie, Stutz—coming to Netflix on November 14— might just change your life.
That’s Hill’s hope, anyhow. The 38-year-old actor best known for his roles in comedies like Superbad and 21 Jump Street had his own life changed when he met his therapist, Phil Stutz, at a low point in his life. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first heard that Hill had directed and starred in a documentary in which he interviewed his therapist. The idea is uncomfortable. Therapy is meant to be private, contained, and not spoken of in polite company… right? To broadcast your sessions to the world is an exercise in narcissism, indulgence, and oversharing… right?
Hill proves this line of thinking wrong. He uses his celebrity platform to further de-stigmatize the societal taboo of therapy and to provide a much-less-expensive option for those of us who can’t afford the Hollywood rates. But more than that, he opens up in a way that is so raw, and so honest, that even the most cynical of viewers will be moved. It helps that Hill’s interview subject, Stutz, is a no-nonsense, down-to-earth dude. Yes, he’s a renowned psychiatrist with books and Hollywood client clout, but right away, you can tell that Stutz is not fame-hungry for Instagram and Twitter followers. He is simply a man who’s good at his job and has been doing it for a long time. Stutz and Hill have an easy, brotherly back-and-forth. Stutz teases Hill for “dumping all this shit” on him, and Hill cracks up like it’s the best joke he’s ever heard. It’s nice.
At first, Hill is only interested in walking through the steps of therapy that he himself received. Stutz has an actionable, practical approach to cognitive behavioral therapy that involves “tools,” which can help his clients understand and better themselves. One of the first tools Stutz uses with patients is the concept of a “life force pyramid,” which has three levels: their relationship with their physical body, their relationship with people, and their relationship with themselves. Here, Hill interjects that he wishes diet and exercise had been framed through a mental health lens for him growing up, rather than as a problem with his appearance. But when Stutz pushes him to expand, Hill shuts down. “This is a movie about you, not me,” he says.
If you think that sounds naive—obviously, this is a movie about Hill—don’t worry. He gets there. About 30 minutes in, the entire concept of the movie dissolves. I won’t spoil how, exactly, but Hill pushes himself to be vulnerable as a filmmaker, and the movie is transformed for the better. The moment is not unlike a breakthrough in therapy—raw, uncomfortable, and honest. Painful, but incredibly necessary. It’s a breakthrough for Hill and the film, but also for Hill’s on-screen relationship with Stutz. Hill lets Stutz in on the process in more ways than one, and as a result, you witness in real-time the moment this becomes about more than just a seasoned therapist humoring his famous client.
Stutz shares stories about losing his brother as a young child, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his early 20s, and his on-again/off-again romantic relationship. Hill, in turn, opens up about his body issues, his struggles with fame and media attention, and losing his brother, Jordan Feldstein, in 2017. When the two men looked into each other’s eyes and sincerely professed their love, I broke down in tears. Not everything works—there’s an uneasy confrontation between Hill and his mother that I could have done without—but, as Stutz tells Hill, it was never going to be perfect. Nothing is. You just have to keep going. That’s all there is.