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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

Hereís one Iíve 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. Thereís his daughter, Connie (Reid), a Dealey Plaza tour guide and JFK assassination theorist. Thereís his soon-to-be-wed daughter Dee Dee (Hudson), a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader alternate and one very special bridesmaid (Tyler). Thereís his soon-to-be-divorced, dipsomaniacal sister-in-law (Dern) and her three young daughters. Thereís the loyal head nurse (Long) who dreams of the day when he will turn to her as a man turns to a woman. Thereís a clamorous waiting room filled with women, including a hypochondriacal patient whoís married to one of his hunting buddies (Turner). And then thereís his wife (Fawcett), who snaps her cap in the movieís 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, Iíve always thought this model of womanhood deserves a bit of roughing up, so Iím 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 Valentineís Day present to her big-bidness hubby was to shave her pubic hair into the shape of a heart and dye it pink. Sheís the archetype here; she was probably one of Dr. Tís patients.)

Iím grieved on account of how badly women in general come off, because I donít 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 DOUBTó"Ösilly women, eating the money, drinking the money, wearing the moneyÖ"óhis fingers clenching reflexively . . . But thatís a much. much better movie. I digress.

Thereís clear evidence that Rapp can write well. COOKIEíS 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 sheíll 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. Tís character: Women are driving him out of his natural mind, but he canít stop taking care of them and just care for them.

Though the ensemble film is Altmanís signature, here he gets lousy performances from almost everyone involved (but the best Gere performance Iíve seen in a while). Even Lyle Lovettís original music comes up short. No one affiliated with this production gets away unscathed. Plus, thereís 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 everyoneís time and money, though those who hanker to see Farrah Fawcett naked may beg to differ.


ó Roxanne Bogucka — an Action Grrl!

HYBRID Ratings Guide:

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

**** Itís worth a full-price ticket.

*** Itís 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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