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ADDicted

Today there's a pill to fix nearly anything, even some things we'd barely heard of twenty years ago. Some are truly miracle drugs, allowing people to lead the lives they want, but unfortunately it's all too easy to hail every new discovery as a miracle, only later discovering that it isn't quite the magic cure-all it seemed to be. Adderall, for example, seemed like the ultimate solution for ADD or ADHD, allowing students the chance to focus on their studies like they'd never been able to do before. But it's still an amphetamine that does strange things to your brain, and despite its good effects it's developing a more sinister reputation of late.

And on the Missouri A&M campus as portrayed in ADDicted, Adderall is everywhere. Drew (Luke Guldan) has a genuine prescription but he also has a habit of letting his friends have a few pills here and there to help get them through finals week or writing that big paper. Nearly all college students do too much, but these kids go beyond the usual. Drew's ex, Ashley (Lauren Sweetser) is writing for the school paper and doing every internship she can get her hands on, besides doing various projects for her sorority and waging her own campaign to get Drew back. Meanwhile, Drew is majoring in political science, playing on the football team, and keeping a 3.4 GPA in between appointments with Dr. Stephens (J. Tucker Smith), quite possibly the worst psychiatrist in the entire Midwest.

None of this is good enough for Drew's mom, Kate (Kathleen Quinlan) who's in the middle of a run for the U.S. House of Representatives. She barely tolerates his football playing, reminding him over and over that he needs to get into a good law school. Drew's father has been dead for years, with Drew still carrying all the guilt his 10-year-old self felt over the loss, and he seems to feel compelled to be the son his mother wants. But when one of his professors (Gil Bellows) calls Drew out over an improperly cited term paper, the golden life his mother planned for him may be out of reach for good.

Of course Kathleen Quinlan gives a very capable performance as the desperately ambitious Kate, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that younger actors Guldan and Sweetser were also nothing but convincing as Drew and Ashley. This is no after-school special -- the film deals with a dark subject and doesn't offer easy solutions, as Adderall itself seems to do. Often the drug is far from the only difficulty its users face, as the film also acknowledges. The main characters' lives are terrible messes but that's a large part of what makes the film a compelling watch. This is an all too common story, unfortunately, but the movie does an excellent job of bringing it to vivid life. It's a timely reminder of the old saying -- if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Image: 
Drew and his mom, who's reminding him once more than he'll never be good enough.

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