Admittedly, I was originally interested in watching Numb strictly because of the involvement of Friends star Matthew Perry. I knew nothing about the film's storyline or its writer/director, Harris Goldberg. Upon receiving the DVD, I decided to look up Harris Goldberg on IMDb. My heart sank when I realized he was responsible for writing The Master of Disguise, a terrible film starring Dana Carvey as a man named Pistachio who does a lot of voices and impressions. At first glance, this would seem to serve Carvey's talents well, except Pistachio appears to be on an acid trip throughout much of the film. Oh well, I thought as I put the DVD in my player. One bad writing credit shouldn't define a career.
Just minutes into Numb, it was clear that this was no Master of Disguise. The film is a thinly disguised autobiography of Harris Goldberg's struggle with depersonalization. Depersonalization is defined as a feeling of detachment from, or being an outside observer of, one's mental processes or body functions, such as the sensation of being in a dream.
In the film, depersonalization not only affects Hudson Milbank's (Matthew Perry) screenwriting career and relationship with his writing partner Tom (Kevin Pollak), but his family life and his attempts to commit to the woman of his dreams. Despite his success as a screenwriter, Hudson had always felt like he was in a constant state of panic. In an effort to pause his constant panic, Milbank smokes so much marijuana so fast that he triggers his preexisting tendency for disassociation.
When I first read the synopsis of Numb, I thought, Chandler Bing? I don't know if he has the versatility to play a role like this. However, Perry does a wonderful job, showing a range of emotions we aren't used to seeing from him. Hudson Milbank is a man desperate to find out what's wrong with him and Perry uses subtle facial expressions throughout the film to clue viewers in on what he's thinking.