Tyler O’Conner is a young gay man who has carved out a respectable life being a sci-fi author. On the surface, he seems perfectly fine, but inside he’s something of a mess. The man suffers from mental illness, including an almost crippling form of anxiety called “analysis paralysis,” which has him playing out every possible scenario imaginable whenever it comes to making a decision or being faced with a new situation. On top of that, he has an attraction for a neighbor named Shane Revere who runs by his house every day as part of his daily routine. Tyler wants very much to strike up a conversation with Shane, but how does he do that and not let his anxiety stop him?
Mental illness has been making its way into the mainstream conversation thanks to the courage of people willing to talk about it on social media. There has been a myriad of celebrities who have opened up about their specific disorders, including Rosie O’Donnell and Wil Wheaton. Even I have my own battles with anxiety and depression, although my anxiety isn’t anywhere near as severe as with Tyler (however during our interview with writer/director/actor Jason T. Gaffney my husband did state that sometimes my own anxiety is as bad), so it only seemed natural for filmmakers to finally address this as a subject matter for their work. What sets Analysis Paralysis apart is that this a romantic comedy. Gaffney has taken a fresh approach with this and instead of just making another serious movie that addresses this real problem he has chosen to have art mimic life.
Just as people with analysis paralysis can have their minds take things to the ridiculously extreme, Gaffney (who co-wrote this along with his father Ed Gaffney) has created a comedy that also goes to the absurdly extreme. In doing so he has made a film that doesn’t push people away with the potential heaviness of the subject matter, but at the same time manages to strike that perfect balance by not taking the subject of mental health too lightly either. In spite of all of the jokes, and some are outrageously hilarious, the fact that Tyler suffers from this disorder is never handled improperly. Even when Tyler feels that his condition is being treated lightly, Shane is right there to say, “Hey. I would never trivialize your condition,” and neither does this movie. Throughout all of the wonderfully written and paced comedy, some important truths do emerge about people with mental illness, and on top of it all being written with just the right touch, it is also acted with just the right nuances to give Tyler a sense of reality. Gaffney, on top of writing and directing a wonderful movie, delivers a delightfully charming performance and shows a very touching vulnerability in bringing Tyler to life. He not only shows that he has some good comedic skill but when it comes to dramatic moments he certainly has the acting chops and puts them to excellent use. This works well especially opposite Kevin Held who plays boyfriend Shane. Held manages well acting opposite Gaffney and gives the movie the perfect sense of balance, in both dramatic and comedic moments. He manages to strike just the right amount of “energy” in all the scenes he has with Gaffney (which is practically the entire movie) and also displays a wide range of comedic responses to each of the absurd scenarios that Tyler imagines will happen, each with their convincing tone that helps to give validity to every wild situation that comes out of Tyler’s mind.
Analysis Paralysis is one of those movies that truly stands on its own. Had it been treated as a drama only then there is a strong chance it would have gotten lost in the noise of other LGBTQ movies, but having treated it as a romantic comedy, along with its sense of respect and truthfulness, makes this movie something special that everyone should see.
For its comedy and sensitive treatment on mental illness, I give Analysis Paralysis 5 out of 5 Therapy Visits!