Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. T & The Women

Year 9, Day 40 - 2/9/17 - Movie #2,540

BEFORE: SNOW DAY!  We got hit with 10 inches of snow this morning in the NYC area, so it didn't seem to make much sense to go to work and rely on two subway trains to Brooklyn that might not even get me there, so I did what I could today from home on Twitter and Instagram to help promote an ongoing Kickstarter campaign.  Working from home is not something I would do regularly, because there are just too many distractions at home - at least when I go to one of my offices, I can be more focused.  As it is, eating lunch and shoveling snow took up most of my day, and I'm at the age where shoveling snow for 15 minutes will exhaust me enough that I'll need a nap immediately after, and any other physical activity is just out of the question for the rest of the day.

Helen Hunt carries over from "What Women Want", and it's another female-heavy ensemble tonight with one male star, released in the same year, 2000.  

And here's what's coming up on TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" slate for tomorrow, February 10:
6:30 AM Good News (1947)
8:15 AM The Goodbye Girl (1977)
10:15 AM Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969)
1:00 PM The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
2:45 PM Grand Hotel (1932)
4:45 PM Grand Prix (1966)
8:00 PM The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
10:30 PM The Great McGinty (1940
12:00 AM The Great Santini (1979)
2:00 AM The Great Waltz (1938)
4:00 AM The Great Zeigfeld (1936)

I've seen another 4 out of these 11 - "The Goodbye Girl", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "Grand Hotel" and "The Grapes of Wrath", so I'm holding my own at 48 seen out of 106, but I still feel like my record is slowly slipping.

THE PLOT: Dr. T is a wealthy Dallas gynecologist who finds his idealist life beginning to fall apart when his wife suffers a nervous breakdown, and a golf instructor is the only woman who offers him any comfort and salvation. 

AFTER: I've heard a lot about Robert Altman over the years, and I know some people are really into his work, but I don't think I've seen that many films directed by him.  "The Player" of course, and also "Short Cuts" come to mind, but I had to look at his IMDB listing to realize that he also directed "MASH" and "Gosford Park", which were great movies, and also "Popeye", which just wasn't.  I just recorded "Nashville" from TCM about a week ago, and I probably should consider "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" when the Oscar-nominated movies beginning with the letter "M" come around.  

I'm left scratching my head, though, wondering how anyone thought making this film would be a good idea.  I mean, who was the target audience here - women? Men? Gynecologists?  Men who have a lot of women in their lives but don't really understand any of them?  Fans of golf and duck hunting?    A little research probably would have revealed to a filmmaker that the majority of men, despite what you might think, are not really interested in the details of what goes on at the gynecologist's office - I mean, maybe it's medically if their partner is trying to conceive, but otherwise, there's just something off-putting about it on a personal level. 

And as with "What Women Want", this film manages to sell out an entire gender - every woman here is just a walking pile of personal problems, they're all either insecure, neurotic, hypochondriac, throwing themselves at the wrong man, unable to properly juggle their career and personal life, secretly a lesbian, or some improbable combination of these.  The women who are successful, sane, balanced and having healthy relationships are just nowhere to be found.  And all of these crazed neurotic women seem to enjoy talking over each other, all at the same time.  Yeah, that's the sound that makes the few men who stuck around for this film, despite the subject matter, tuning out.  

Dr. T's wife has a mental condition diagnosed as a Hestia complex, which apparently affects only upper-class women who receive TOO much love in their lives.  How can this possibly be a real thing?  This must have been created for the movie, right, just to make Dr. T more of a sympathetic character - oh, he loved his wife too much, poor guy.  But you can't just make up psychological conditions because they fill a narrative hole in your screenplay.  And let me see if I follow, him loving her too much made her revert to a childlike state?  That just doesn't track - I could maybe see it if some woman went through a trauma, and reverted to being a child because she couldn't deal with an adult tragedy, but I fail to see how too much love and attention turned her into a mental child.  

I think what's even worse is that Dr. T, as a character, seems like a total blank who doesn't have a strong opinion about anything.  OK, so we see him dealing a little bit with his wife being committed to a mental hospital, but other than that, he doesn't really ever react to anything.  His assistant makes a pass at him, and he fails to notice - then when he does, his first impulse is to leave the room?  Way to worm out of an awkward situation.  He finds out that his daughter, who's engaged to a man, is also having a relationship with a woman.  OK, so you'd think that would lead to some kind of conversation, but it doesn't, everything just proceeds with the wedding as if nothing's wrong.  Sure, put your head in the sand, because these things have a way of working themselves out.  Umm, no, they usually don't. 

The ending is a total cop-out, with Dr. T's convertible being sucked up into the fakest-looking tornado seen since "The Wizard of Oz", and with that cyclone depositing him completely unharmed in the Mexican desert (apparently) where his services are desperately needed to deliver a baby.  Give me a freakin' break.  Nothing got resolved, not his wife's condition, or his relationship with the golf pro, or how he was going to deal with any of the other crazy women in his life.  What a let-down.

Also starring Richard Gere (last seen in "The Hoax"), Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern (last seen in "Fat Man and Little Boy"), Shelley Long (last seen in "A Very Brady Sequel"), Kate Hudson (last heard in "Kung Fu Panda 3"), Tara Reid, Liv Tyler (last seen in "Reign Over Me"), Matt Malloy (last seen in "The Anniversary Party"), Robert Hays (last seen in "She's Having a Baby"), Andy Richter (last heard in "Penguins of Madagascar"), Janine Turner (last seen in "Cliffhanger"), Lee Grant (last seen in "Mulholland Dr.").

RATING: 2 out of 10 pimento cheese sandwiches

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