The President is on the couch. His analyst is the on run. He's groovy. He's suave. He's sex-crazed. He's renowned New York psychiatrist Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), the top man in his field, who's just been given some startling news - he's been chosen to be the President's personal analyst! But when the spy games and the stress that come with the job psych him out, the increasingly paranoid shrink goes into hiding...only to discover an international cadre of ruthless spies are out to kidnap him for his inside information - if his own spy agencies don't kill him first!
You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Work Here (But It Helps)
- The President's Analyst review by Count Otto Black
(0) of (0) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 4
This totally bonkers swinging sixties satire starts from a fairly logical premise - the president of the USA needs psychiatric help to cope with the immense pressures of his job, which in turn puts his psychiatrist under terrible stress, turning him into a loose cannon who knows too much - and takes it to its wildly illogical conclusion.
James Coburn was never better cast. In movies like the two "Flint" Bond spoofs, his creepy charisma and downright shark-like grin put you more in mind of the Joker (now that would have been an interesting rôle for him!) than any kind of good guy, but here, when he goes into his trademark "I'm a bit a manic, and look, I have absolutely perfect teeth that are slightly bigger than they should be!" mode, it's totally in character, since he's both paranoid in the sense that he believes everyone is out to get him, and absolutely right because they are, including several factions neither he nor the viewer have thought of until the film reveals that the ghastly truth just got slightly worse.
The comedy of paranoia is played out perfectly, with our increasingly deranged hero finding out that maybe the people he thought he could trust are his worst enemies, but friends can be found in extremely unlikely places. And interestingly, unlike most films from this era that involve hippies, it neither shies away from the fact that they take drugs rather a lot, nor attempts to show the audience that taking drugs automatically has bad consequences of any kind. In fact, the hippies have more fun than anybody else in the movie, and good luck to them!
Riddled with savagely satirical material, notably the "normal", "liberal" American family who have far too many guns and would undoubtedly have voted for Donald Trump, and very likely Hitler. Or the utterly vile head of the FBI who, being a borderline midget with an obvious inferiority complex, only hires absurdly short men as agents. Or the scene where our hero gets very professional and points out somebody else's Freudian slips while failing to notice that he himself is unconsciously gesturing with a rather large banana. And given that this film was made a quarter of a century before the rise of the internet, some of the themes that pop up towards the end are eerily prescient of modern-day ultra-paranoia.
It's not exactly a masterpiece, but as groovy sixties political satires go, it may be the best of the lot. It's certainly the only movie referenced by Austin Powers that actually has anything resembling a serious point to make. And maybe it still has something to say in the dark and troubled era of the Trump Generation. Even if it doesn't, it's a lot of fun. I'd give it four and a half stars if that was an option. And I'll never feel quite the same way about my internet service provider again...