There is a risk in letting your passion for an issue override your ability to make a decent film. This is the mistake writer and director Dan Jenski has made with ADDicted, a film about the perils of prescription medication and college life.
Drew Dawson (Luke Guldan) is at college, trying to juggle his study and sport commitments and keep his grades up to get into law school. He has a cheating ex-girlfriend on the scene, a high achieving and overbearing political candidate mother, and a collection of football teammates and coaches who are relying on his input to the game. When Drew is called out by his professor for plagiarism, things are looking grim for him across the board. If he is reported to the college dean he not only looses his place on the football team, he gets kicked out of college and has to answer to his mum and her campaign donors. So, how does Drew manage all this pressure? Prescription meds, of course.
Drew has been gradually becoming more and more dependent on Adderall since he was a kid, his mum Kate (Kathleen Quinlan) ensuring he was prescribed the drug when his dad was killed in a car crash. It seems Drew is not on his own in his dependency; many of his college peers are equally hooked, faking illnesses to get the prescriptions legally or relying on dealers to get their fix otherwise. When Drew has to rewrite his plagiarised paper urgently, his ex-girlfriend Ashley (Lauren Sweetser) agrees to write it for him on the condition of payment in pills. Likewise, Drew’s football buddies score a few pills here and there to keep up with the demands of their over-packed college lives. When Ashley steals Drew’s prescription and overdoses, they police trace the drugs back to Drew and he is facing real trouble. Even his sympathetic and supportive professor Jeff (Gil Bellows) might not be able to help.
At the closing of the film there is a message that says the writer/director Dan Jenski has travelled with the film, visiting colleges to talk to students about the dangers of prescription medication, Adderall in particular. This text explains a great deal about what is wrong with this film: it is a passion project, and the message – clearly deeply important to the story teller – has overtaken the medium.
ADDicted is long and tedious; there is no mystery about how this film will play out. That Jenski is so fixed on this issue of substance abuse, and particularly of the abuse of prescription medication, is both admirable and important. One can only imagine how prolific this problem might be, and it’s likely very difficult to assess. But in this instance the issue is not one that sustains the interest levels, with ADDicted seeming more like an excessively long and bad episode of Beverly Hills 90210 than a feature film. The acting is fine, but the screenplay is poorly written and the film is not well cut. Even Degrassi Junior High springs to mind as a series which did a halfway decent job with this type of subject matter. Unfortunately ADDicted finishes up as being a long and disappointing public service announcement.
ADDicted is available on DVD/VOD from 3rd October through Vision Films.