Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Review: Dr. T & The Women 3 Stars

I can’t describe too much of Dr. T & The Women’s plot because the film has a couple of twists and turns that I’ve been sworn to secrecy not to reveal, cross my heart and hope to die. However, I was never that shocked or surprised, anyway. Needless to say, Richard Gere doesn’t know everything there is to know about the crying game.

Dr. T & The Women is the story of a gynecologist (Richard Gere) who is beloved by all the women of Dallas’ social elite. In his personal and professional life, he is completely surrounded by women and, subsequently, loves, worships and adores women. His only source of testosterone in this estrogen-soaked world is his weekly hunting outing with his buddies, who might as well be women the way they hunt.

Dr. T leads a charmed life… until his eldest daughter (Kate Hudson) begins planning her nuptials and chooses her college roommate (Liv Tyler) over her younger sister (Tara Reid) as maid-of-honor, inciting her jealousy. On top of this, Dr. T’s pampered, privileged wife (Farrah Fawcett) has a mental breakdown at the same time her alcoholic sister (Laura Dern) moves in with her three grade-school-age daughters. Dr. T’s perfect little world suddenly spins wildly out of control.

Dr. T & The Women is the movie that typifies Robert Altman’s career. For every Short Cuts, there’s a Pret-a-Porter to follow it up. For every Nashville, there’s three OC & Stiggs’. And every once in a while, there’s a Popeye.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as big a fan of Robert Altman as the next guy who claims to be a big fan of Altman. (Unless the next guy is PT Anderson or Alan Rudolph, I suppose.) Altman certainly misses more than he hits, but when M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Player are the hits, you’re allowed to aim high and fall short. The thing to keep in mind is that when Altman isn’t great, he still doesn’t suck.

Dr. T & The Women doesn’t suck. The film is beautifully photographed by Jan Kiessler and boasts a terrific score by Lyle Lovett (an Altman regular as an actor.) Dr. T. & The Women is a comedy and can be funny, but the humor seems a little old-school, like early seventies old-school, like “are the filmmakers entirely unaware that comedy has evolved in the last thirty five years?” old-school. In fact, the film’s funniest moment was a pratfall.

There are interesting themes, played out and played with by Altman’s requisite ensemble cast, all of whom deliver engaging performances. However, these interesting themes are not explored fully, deeply and richly. Everything in the film seems to take place at surface-level. This is probably the first and the last time I will ever say this, but I actually wish the movie was longer.

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