DR. T AND THE WOMEN 122 minutes, R, directed by Robert Altman, written by Anne Rapp.
In the new Robert Altman film, “Dr. T and the Women,” Richard Gere stars as the most popular OB-GYN in Dallas history, so you know right away what that means. Since this is yet another vanity piece in a long line of vanity pieces for Mr. Gere, scores of women will be doing anything, absolutely anything, for the chance to slide into his mink-lined stirrups.
And right there you have the film’s problem. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt that many women find it titillating to strip naked for a Pap smear from any gynecologist – even one who looks like Richard Gere.
Overlooking that little nugget, Altman builds his film around it. That might have worked if “Dr. T and the Women” had been successful in mining its humor from the unlikelihood of its recurring situation – a gaggle of bitchy, wealthy Texas women in a rush to experience the surprisingly warm touch of their doctor’s speculum.
But “Dr. T and the Women” isn’t funny. Worse, it isn’t at all interested in the women it so flamboyantly – some might say cruelly – parades across the screen. They’re just an excuse for the director to present another ensemble piece, one that isn’t lifted by its enormous cast, but positively burdened by it.
It’s curious. Altman has gathered a terrific group of actors for this film – Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, Tara Reid, Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler, Lee Grant, Janine Turner, Robert Hays, Matt Malloy and Andy Richter – but he isn’t able to make even one of them take shape as an individual character.
Indeed, for 122 minutes, his screen isn’t clogged with interesting people, as it was in “M*A*S*H,” “Short Cuts” and “The Player,” but with actors misbehaving in desperate attempts to stand apart from the crowd.
The film is about what becomes of Dr. T’s life when: his wife, Kate (Fawcett), suffers a breakdown in a shopping mall; his lesbian daughter, Dee Dee (Hudson), prepares to go through with her heterosexual marriage; and a hot golf pro (Hunt) turns on the romantic charm.
It does feature the chaos Altman is famous for choreographing, but his unusually lax direction – not to mention Anne Rapp’s hackneyed script – makes it all unwatchable.
As Dr. T, Gere is easier to stomach than he was in “Autumn in New York,” a film that easily stands as one of the year’s worst. But he has no chemistry with Hunt, who, like Fawcett, has made headlines for taking off her clothes in one of the film’s several gratuitous nude scenes.
How gratuitous? While the film’s press pack explicitly asks critics not to reveal the ending, let’s just say that those who make it to the end without falling asleep or walking out, will find out just how gratuitous.
On video and DVD
GONE IN 60 SECONDS 119 minutes, PG-13, directed by Dominic Sena, written by Scott Rosenberg.
Apparently, it takes just 60 seconds to lose your credibility, damage your career, become a laughingstock, disappoint your audience and forever alter the way the world views you, your work and your choices.
Such is the case for the Academy Award-winning cast of Dominic Sena’s “Gone in 60 Seconds,” a film about car chases and caricatures that stars Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie – two actors who should have known better than to turn their Academy Awards into worthless gearshifts.
The film, which was Jolie’s first after scoring a Best Supporting Actress award at this year’s Academy Awards, is the pits.
She’s so bad in it, in fact, that it makes it seem as if her winning turn in “Girl, Interrupted” was a fluke.
She’s in good company. After Cage’s Best Actor win for “Leaving Las Vegas,” his career has been so entirely unremarkable that whatever talent he may have exhibited in strong, smaller films such as “Vegas,” “Moonstruck” and “Raising Arizona” has since been sucked into an artistic Cuisinart.
Jolie does fare better than Cage in “Gone,” but that’s only because she wasn’t asked to speak much of the film’s pseudo-tough dialogue. Instead, she was apparently hauled in to showcase her pouting lips, which are so startlingly full, they look as if they could dismantle a tractor.
Based on H.B. Halicki’s 1974 drive-in movie of the same name, “Gone in 60 Seconds” features Cage as Memphis Raines, a retired car thief who jumps back into a life of crime after his younger brother, Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), fails to deliver 50 high-priced stolen cars to the mobster Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston).
Now, with Kip’s life on the line, it’s up to Memphis and his tag team of STP-sniffing troglodytes (Robert Duvall, Jolie, Will Patton, Chi McBride and Vinnie Jones) to evade the police and get those cars to Calitri in four days flat.
With the exception of the film’s car chases, which are well done, everything here looks as if it took 60 seconds to slap together: the plot, the performances, Cage’s toupee and the dialogue.
In fact, not enough can be said about the film’s dialogue, which is so bad, it’s embarrassing.
Christopher Smith is the Bangor Daily News film critic. His reviews appear Mondays in Style, Thursdays in the scene, and Thursdays on “NEWS CENTER at 5:30” on WLBZ-2 and WCSH-6.
THE VIDEO CORNER
Renting a video? NEWS film critic Christopher Smith can help. Below are his grades of recent releases in video stores.
Gone in 60 SecondsD
Nutty Professor C+
The In Crowd F+
The Replacements D
Chicken Run A
Big Momma’s House B
Boys and Girls C-
Fantasia 2000 A-
The Perfect Storm A
Pokemon: 2000 D+
Mission: Impossible 2 B+
Titan A.E. B-
Return to Me B+
Center Stage D+
The Patriot B+
Toy Story 2 A
Keeping the Faith B+
Rules of Engagement C-
Shanghai Noon C
Pitch Black B+
The Skulls D-
Snow Day F
Black and White B-
Final Destination D-
A Map of the World A-
High Fidelity A-
Ready to Rumble D
28 Days C-
East is East A
Mission to Mars D-
American Psycho B+
Any Given Sunday C+
I Dreamed of Africa B
The Next Best Thing D
The Tigger Movie B-
Erin Brockovich B+
The Cider House Rules A-
Here on Earth D+
Reindeer Games C+
Princess Mononoke A
Romeo Must Die C-
Whatever It Takes B
The Beach D+
Drowning Mona C-