Steven Wright is a young Boston-New York comedian who looks something like Art Garfunkel filtered through the Three Stooges’ Larry Fine and who specializes in Woody Allen-Albert Brooks post-nasal Angst. In “The Appointments of Dennis Jennings,” (a short film playing midnight Fridays at the Nuart), star-co-writer Wright, has contrived a deadpan little comedy on what he apparently considers the main peril facing Manhattanites.
Is it street crime? Drugs? Disease? Government scandals? Movie reviewing? Not at all. The city’s biggest menace, according to Wright, is psychoanalysis. And “Dennis Jennings” shows one particularly fiendish example: the scurrilous Dr. Schooner (Rowan Atkinson), a foul little sadist who misses appointments with Dennis (Wright), ridicules him, seduces his girlfriend and even confuses him with another client who worked as a circus geek.
Is Dennis--eventually driven to mayhem by this unprofessional conduct--dreaming it all up? Is it paranoia? Is life itself a nightmare? Or is paranoia actually a stand-up comedy routine from Boston?
If you tend to brood over questions like this, “Dennis Jennings” (Times-rated: Mature for psychoanalytic jargon)--immaculately shot by director Dean Parisot and cinematographer Frank Prinzi, and one of five 1988 short subject Oscar nominees--may be a real shot of sang-Freud , Jung blood and the Reich stuff. As for Steven Wright, if he ever gets out of analysis, he seems to have a promising future.