|

MY 5 REASONS WHY JONAH HILL’S ‘STUTZ’ NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY IS A MUST-WATCH

If you know me well then you know that I am a docuphile. I just can’t seem to get enough of streaming documentaries, getting lost in the experiences of other people’s lives.  I have a genre that I typically stick to and it usually involves someone killing someone or selling someone or peeing… you get the idea. (Btw, I don’t condone nor have I ever personally peed on anyone – just putting that out there!)

So, when Jonah Hill’s ‘Stutz’ Netflix documentary popped up on my screen it wasn’t my first choice that week. I watched Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich instead. What a BITCH!!!!!

Anyways, it wasn’t until a very close friend of mine sent me a text suggesting that I should watch this film directed by Jonah Hill right in that moment and then to call her so we could discuss the show sharing our thoughts.

“Stutz”, a new documentary about Jonah Hills therapist Phil Stutz, spotlights the doctor’s profound approach to self-care and mental illness, giving you insight into a very unconventional therapist-patient relationship. Through their very candid conversation, it feels like you’re eavesdropping on a 96-minute therapy session.

The message that Jonah Hill intended to convey as a result of this ends up being something completely different than what he imagined. 

Within the first 5 minutes – I freaking kid you not, I was hooked. Before knowing where the film was going to take me or what sensitive material was going to be brought up, I hopped on my phone, pulled up the show, and sent it to 3 people.  

BEFORE I BEGIN WHO IS JONAH HILL?

He is best known for many of his comedic roles. You may have seen him in films like ‘Get him to the Greek’ , ‘21 Jump Street, or ‘The Watch’. My all-time personal favorite because of its shock factor at the time is ‘Super Bad’.

He started off in supportive roles, usually the comedic sidekick hype that offered funny lines, dumb ideas, or was the cause of whatever issue the protagonist got into. As he has matured in his career, he has also starred in some serious roles showcasing the caliber of his talent. Today, Jonah has added the title, Director to his resume with “Stutz” being his second film.  

What most people who are familiar with the actor DON’T know is that he is riddled with anxiety and panic attacks. So much so that he secretly filmed this documentary (not sharing the news of his project with the press until completion) and when it was finished he went on the record to say that he would not promote his work due to the exacerbation of his anxiousness while doing public appearances and media promotional events. It was also said that he made this decision to let the work speak for itself.

And with people like me who look for work like that – the good ol word of mouth tactic is enough to get an audience in front of this film.

Without further ado and spoiling by sharing too much of the good stuff, here are my 5 reasons why Jonah Hill’s Stutz is a must-watch.

REASON 1: IT’S PIQUANT

Why I use that word? Because this documentary is ESPECIALLY for anyone who has a pleasantly sharp taste for mental health. As I mentioned I don’t want to give too much away and as the movie unfolds so do some hard honest truths.

Jonah Hill says that he created this film at first to promote how therapy has worked for him. So he went with the whole “show don’t tell” method which is pretty powerful when you are excited to share something you love with people. So what better way than to interview his therapist.

Right off the bat, you experience the interaction between the two as a very twisted yet hilariously odd patient-doctor relationship. It was probably when the doctor made a joke about Jonah coming in there to “dump all his shit” on him again that gave me that impression.  

Not only did Jonah want to introduce his therapist and talk about all the ways that this man has changed his life, but he wanted viewers to experience in their very own living rooms, Stutz’s “life-altering” approaches, showcasing his unique and visual model of therapy. I mean who doesn’t love pictures!!!! I think in stick figure, not words so this was particularly great for me!

REASON 2: IT’S LUDICROUS

It’s like you are a fly on the wall, listening to a very unique patient-doctor dynamic, that in some scenes makes you say WTF?

The banter between the two, even though some of the doctor’s comments may seem absurd, you can’t help but laugh out loud wanting to hug this gentle man in the end.  

He gives off that vibe of your favorite snarky uncle or grandfather even.

Some of my favorite lines were:

“Hey Jonah, wanna do some Parkinson’s disease drugs with me” (it is revealed the doctor has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has alarm timers set when he needs to take his meds throughout the day AND throughout the film.)

“So close your eyes and imagine you’re surrounded by a universe completely made out of love. I know this sounds nuts but shut the fuck up. Do what I tell you”.

For the person who is all serious as hell, those lines are probably not funny to you so if this is the case this is your warning, he says much worse…..

REASON 3: IT’S PURELY PRAGMATIC

What made this documentary different than others to me (obviously there are no murders and women who have snapped), especially in the “self-help” genre of docs, is that Stutz literally gives you the tools to handle some pretty complex themes in life (loss, hatred towards others, self-judgment, attaining personal goals, etc) .  He carries out 6 exercises on Jonah Hill that you can do to at the same time.

Think of it as Pop – Up – Therapy session. You could be watching this at work, on an airplane, or in the kid’s car line waiting for your minnie at school – Dr. Stutz is bringing the tools to YOU!

Stutz shares early off that he didn’t think traditional therapy was helpful for the suffering patient. He noticed that patients that walked in feeling like shit, walked out STILL feeling like shit. The young doctor asked his supervisor early off in his career was there something that they could do to offer their patients some sort of quicker relief (not instant relief but something within the first few sessions) in order to give his patients some hope. Something that would make them want to stick with the counseling and come back. His supervisor was basically like yeeeeaaaa, no!  

So he started creating techniques to be used as tools in order for the person to take tangible steps in taking back control of their mental state, especially during difficult times. A lot of our problems are not from what is happening on the outside, the external. It is the state we are in internally. That’s where his tools come in. By no means do any of his exercises “fix” anything and he speaks to that. They are created to offer the patient relief, a new insight or perspective, an action –a way to help the person who is suffering to work through a difficult emotion.

He also shares analogies which are also the tools, accompanied by hand drawings for visualization on index cards. He takes the concepts of complex life themes and turns them into something so simple, allowing the patient to understand on a different level what is happening to them.

One concept he touches on that I can never get enough of is what he calls Part X. For our thoughts on the things that get in our way, and stop us from being able to forgive or let go, the anti-social, very judgmental part of us that stubbornly sits in the center of our F5 tornado of emotions – that is Part X.

I tend to use the term Ego whenever I speak about it (okay let’s be honest I actually call it Vego – ha you see what I did there) but his narrative of how we allow Part X/Ego to talk us towards walking off a cliff is so simple yet so deep.

He straight out says that Part X’s mission is to block your evolution as a human. It wants to, in his own words, “fuck up your shit”.  It is also a part of you that will never go away. That’s what makes you human. But there are tools, weapons if you will, to keep in hand when that bastard X shows up.

He also shares other concepts using a pyramid representing 3 levels of life force, how we get lost in “the maze”, and the 3 realities of life that once you understand – you will be armed to deal with anything.  

REASON 4: IT MIGHT MAKE YOU WANT TO CALL YOUR MAMA

Through some heartbreaking confessions and candid conversation, both Stutz and Jonah Hill talk about their mothers, how trauma in the lives of these women affected them, and their ability to mother these now grown men as children.  

Because the intent of the film was to initially deep dive into Stutz, highlighting his life and how he got to be who he is, Jonah asked personal questions deep diving into Stutz’s family trauma touching on his relationship with his heartbroken mother.

A product of the early 1900s, Stutz shares the story of his mother, her childhood trauma and unresolved daddy issues, and how it all recycled (as family trauma does) into her own parenting style. Stutz reflects on how his mother’s unresolved issues affected him and his own personal relationships with women. Basically, he spills out his mommy issues. But he does so with the kindest words, much love, and forgiveness toward her.

Spoiler Alert: As the film continues to reveal hidden truths (from both Jonah and Stutz’s pasts) Jonah brings his own mother on set for a real one on one no bullshit “this is how your actions affected my life” type session. With Stutz doing what he does, he played a third-party role in gently helping Jonah and his mother to articulate some of their feelings about each other.  

I had a moment where I cried because it wasn’t until my mother passed that I realized there were so many things I wanted to tell her that I felt. Not to bash her or judge her parenting but to tell her the things that were important to me. Equally allowing her the opportunity to tell me the same, bringing us to a deeper understanding of each other.

But then I thought – if she was alive, and I attempted this suicide mission, I would absolutely need someone there as a witness. Because she would most likely call me a bad word in Spanish, cry to make me feel guilty, and then find whatever object within her reach and whoop my ass, because to her you are never too old to get a spanking.

In all seriousness, this part of the film confirmed that I need to give myself permission, validating what I am feeling towards people in my life –without feeling guilty.

As long as it is done respectfully, and in a space where the other person can be heard too, being able to articulate complex feelings within complex relationships can be a healing beautiful experience.

It’s a shame that a lot of close relationships are lost because either 1 party or both are unwilling to take steps in the right direction in maintaining the sacred bonds of blood.

REASON 5: IT’S RAW, REAL, IMPACTFUL

RAW

Every exercise that was shared in this film I needed. In my lifetime I have endured loss, shame for my shadows, mental flogging, resentment, and hatred toward others. Each of his exercises along with his explanations was pretty powerful.

I am learning every year that there is nothing I will ever be able to do to nullify completely my emotions. To be honest, the whole reason why I started to practice Stoicism, in the beginning, was because of the misconception of what a Stoic really is.

I am good at pushing my feelings down, feeling nothing. Out of sight out of mind is my favorite game. But that wasn’t working for me anymore because I did that for so many things that I have been through it started to bubble up and explode out.

I picked Stoicism because I thought I would learn tactics on how to NOT EVER FEEL certain emotions and walk over problems and people like I would as if they were a turd I spotted on the sidewalk. But the practices and exercises from the great Stoics taught me otherwise. Just as Stutz will teach you.

“The highest creative expression for a human being is to be able to create something new right in the face of adversity. The worse the adversity, the greater the opportunity.”

If my tv was an interactive screen id double tap the shit out of it, hearting that phrase all day!

Pain is inevitable. You cant make it go away so you better learn how you can use it.

REAL

Without giving too much away, what looks like a one-day, real-life session in Stutz’s office, turns into a myriad of confessions on Jonah Hills’ part, revealing movie tricks, and stripping away parts of the set. With this being the second film he has directed he decides to come clean with his fears, his struggle with perfectionism, and how he may have lost his way in the true message of what he intended this film to really be about.

To which the very wise Doctor responds at one point:

“You have to let yourself fuck it up. If you could do it perfectly, it would contradict everything that we are doing here”.

As secrets are revealed and truths unfold, the journey of the film takes you to Stutz’s own insecurities. Due to his Parkinson’s disease, the drawings and writings from Stutz are shaky and messy. He says its “barely legible” stating he doesn’t even like looking at it.  

Jonah told the Doctor that he intended to use his actual writings and drawings for the film to display the tools and that he understands that the Doctor is not proud of his penmanship, but he asked if the doctor would be okay with it.  Without hesitation Stutz said:

 “Oh it would be great. Definitely do it. And if it’s shaky it’s even better. Because the whole premise of this is we’re not gonna win every time, we certainly can’t be perfect, we can’t control it, but we have an unstoppable will to go forward. And this reminds you of it.”

CUE THE WATERWORKS!!!!

All of that struck a chord with me and I cried when he said that. I struggle immensely as an artist in my own right, and how my work must look/sound a certain way, and if it doesn’t then I am a fraud. A loser. A person who claims to be a writer, who can’t actually write. This film has not only offered me some new tools to keep in my she-shed but it has also inspired me to keep being me, releasing judgment. So just like Jonah and Stutz, I must honor my shadows, and get out of my own way so that I can move forward in my endeavors of giving something of value to you.

IMPACTFUL

The conclusion that I came to by the end of the film was a liberation from self-judgment. In fact, I have to say that this is the easiest piece I have written out of all my pieces. Why, because I have removed the critic. Or silenced her ass for the moment. If I keep worrying and stressing about what my work looks like on the other side and I keep editing, rewording, and restructuring, I’m never going to get my shit out there. One person’s pain can help soothe another’s. So I must keep going forward.

And through all the imperfections that happened in the film, I fucking loved it that much more. We are a society that appreciates the authenticities of our fellow human beings. It builds trust, it creates a connection, and it is a shared experience that bonds us because we are all so damn imperfect.   

What I find amazing about art, is that the creator creates from personal experience. They have a vision. But for the audience, no one person has the same experience or interpretation of what they are witnessing. And that is this film.

These are my 5 reasons and my takeaways, but this documentary has many more themes for you to explore that I haven’t even touched on because you NEED to watch this and find the gems yourself. And whatever adversity you may be going through right now, hopefully, you will get what you need from this therapy session and I would LOVE to hear your reasons and takeaways from this film.

For the purpose of ending this article, I suppose if I had to offer a universal conclusion looking at my notes and all the bullet points that I did NOT touch on, it would be this:

It is when the hardest truths of life are communicated, we can heal. And we don’t have to do it alone.

Watch Stutz so you can find out how Jonah Hills intentions of creating the film changed in the end, surprising not only himself but the good ol Doctor Stutz.   

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *