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DR T & THE WOMEN(R)
Artisan Entertainment
Official Site


Director: Robert Altman

Producers: Robert Altman, James McLindon, David Levy, Tommy Thompson

Written by: Anne Rapp

Cast: Richard Gere, Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, Tara Reid, Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler, Janine Turner

Rating: out of 5

Here’s one I’ve been putting off writing for weeks. Jesus, what a mess. I actually had to get up and walk around between that sentence and this one.

DR. T AND THE WOMEN is the story of Dr. Sullivan Travis (Gere), OB-GYN to the Junior League and courtly protector of women. As the title suggests, he deals with many women. There’s his daughter, Connie (Reid), a Dealey Plaza tour guide and JFK assassination theorist. There’s his soon-to-be-wed daughter Dee Dee (Hudson), a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader alternate and one very special bridesmaid (Tyler). There’s his soon-to-be-divorced, dipsomaniacal sister-in-law (Dern) and her three young daughters. There’s the loyal head nurse (Long) who dreams of the day when he will turn to her as a man turns to a woman. There’s a clamorous waiting room filled with women, including a hypochondriacal patient who’s married to one of his hunting buddies (Turner). And then there’s his wife (Fawcett), who snaps her cap in the movie’s opening minutes. She and the golf pro with whom he has an affair (Hunt) are the only undemanding women in his life.

DR. T AND THE WOMEN is a knife in the tanned, defoliated back of Dallas womanhood. Now personally, I’ve always thought this model of womanhood deserves a bit of roughing up, so I’m not grieved on account of how badly such women come off in this movie. (Many years ago, I read an article in, I think, Ms. Magazine about a Dallas socialite whose Valentine’s Day present to her big-bidness hubby was to shave her pubic hair into the shape of a heart and dye it pink. She’s the archetype here; she was probably one of Dr. T’s patients.)

I’m grieved on account of how badly women in general come off, because I don’t get any sense that writer Rapp particularly meant to skewer a segment of society. Scenes of clamoring women, and there are several, bring to mind nothing so much as the "Pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep" number from THE MUSIC MAN, where gossiping matrons gathered on the corner are compared to a flock of biddies. These society-page women are portrayed as the very ones Joseph Cotten talked about in SHADOW OF A DOUBT—"…silly women, eating the money, drinking the money, wearing the money…"—his fingers clenching reflexively . . . But that’s a much. much better movie. I digress.

There’s clear evidence that Rapp can write well. COOKIE’S FORTUNE was a nice, offbeat story. And there are some wonderfully true lines in DR. T. At one point, Gere offers to take care of Hunt so that she’ll never have to work or worry again. "Why would I want that?" she asks him, gently puzzled. For me this was the crux of Dr. T’s character: Women are driving him out of his natural mind, but he can’t stop taking care of them and just care for them.

Though the ensemble film is Altman’s signature, here he gets lousy performances from almost everyone involved (but the best Gere performance I’ve seen in a while). Even Lyle Lovett’s original music comes up short. No one affiliated with this production gets away unscathed. Plus, there’s a stupid, out-of-left-field meteorological occurrence (not as freakish as MAGNOLIA, but not as believable either) that just destroyed any goodwill I had left for this movie.

A pointless waste of everyone’s time and money, though those who hanker to see Farrah Fawcett naked may beg to differ.

 

— Roxanne Bogucka — an Action Grrl!


HYBRID Ratings Guide:

***** Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

**** It’s worth a full-price ticket.

*** It’s worth a matinee ticket.

** Wait for video rental.

* Check out the video from the library, if you must.

0 While I would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...



Mike Doughty



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