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Dr. T & the Women (2000)
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Review Date: October 10, 2000
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Anne Rapp
Producers: Robert Altman, James McLindon
Actors:
Richard Gere
Helen Hunt
Shelley Long
Plot:
Gynecologist Sully Travis, better known to most as Dr. T, is surrounded by women at work, women at home and women in his relationships. This film follows the good doctor as his wife loses her senses, his daughter is preparing to marry and a new woman enters his life. Can the doctor handle all of these things happening at the same time? Can he handle all of these women? Let's see.
Critique:
A fluffy, meandering, overlong tale which barely manages to stay afloat thanks to its many kooky characters, interesting premise about a controlling man who finally loses all control and a pretty neat ending. Not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, this film had me wondering about its purpose during several scenes, but ultimately won most of me over with some really fun performances. Shelley Long was surprisingly good as the doctor's right-hand woman at the office. Funny, quirky and always understanding of the doctor's issues, Long actually had me forgetting her Diane character from TV's "Cheers". Another major kudo goes out to Laura Dern in an excellent comedic turn as the ultimate rich, clumsy, alcoholic sister-in-law from out of town, stealing every scene that she was in. Unfortunately, as in usual Altman style, the film is filled with many stars, actors and characters, without any real time dedicated to any of them. Dern's character sadly falls into this latter group. But much of the rest of the cast is good also. Gere and Hunt worked well off one another, although someone should really tell Dick to stay away from characters sporting accents, or at least to try and maintain the same accent through the entire picture.

Plug all that on to Farrah Fawcett, in what can only be described as a "perfect casting choice", Kate Hudson looking great, Tara Reid putting teen flicks behind her and Janine Turner in an almost unrecognizable role as the ultimate pain in the butt, and most anyone seeing this film should have at least one favorite character. But with so many characters and so little "real plot", the film ultimately gets bogged down in many moments where you are left wondering why you're watching any of it in the first place. I wasn't sure about what any of it meant until the near end of the film when the doctor finally came to grips with the journey that he had taken. I especially liked the final scene which was quite MAGNOLIA-esque. A fine line between fantasy and reality. This ambiguous last scene also contains one of the memorable shots ever shown in a commercial movie. The film is also laced with many symbolic touches, with water literally co-starring in most every outdoor scene, and quite a few beautiful scenery shots, all of which sort of made up for the lack of "real" story. I would recommend this film to people who like any of its principals, enjoy watching a large cast of characters interact on film and don't mind a lack of solid narrative. Also, please note that despite this film being labeled as a "comedy", it's really much more of a drama than anything else. One thing that it did manage to do convincingly was to skewer the women of the Dallas elite social scene. Yipes...and you thought Minnesotans were pissed after FARGO?

PS: The nudity factor in this film includes Helen Hunt sans top and Farrah Fawcett hopping around a water fountain in her birthday suit. Richard Gere, on the other hand, shows no ass.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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