DOC HOLLYWOOD

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Doc Hollywood Cover Now can you guess what romantic comedy has been referenced in the films, 'Jersey Girl', 'Cars', and 'U Turn'? No. It's not the porn parody, 'Batman XXX'. I would've had to have added 'Pride and Prejudice' if I wanted to make that particular declaration work. What I'm referring to instead is this flick Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones; and Starring: Michael J. Fox, Woody Harrelson, Julie Warner, with Bridget Fonda. It was made in 1991, and lasted for 104 minutes.


Doc Hollywood - What? Dead Again?


THE STORY:
Doctor Benjamin Stone (Michael J. Fox) was supposed to drive all the way to Hollywood and become a world famous plastic surgeon over there. But no. He doesn't. Along the way he accidentally crashes his car into a Judge's fence, and end's up having to do his community service in a hospital located in a small town called O'Grady.

Hey! Wait up! You do know of O'Grady, don't you? Well, it's a very nice place on the surface. Tiny. Yet nice all the same. Plus if you're currently in Ben's Armani shoes, you'd get to meet some really funky people whilst you're waiting for you car to get fixed.

For example, there is Doctor Aurelius Hogue (Barnard Hughes): who's the resident doctor that has some very colourful patient's for Ben to tend to. Or then there's Mayor Nick Nicholson and his lovely young daughter, Nancy Lee (David Ogden Stiers and Bridget Fonda): who both want to stick their claws into Ben for very different reasons. Plus let's not forget Hank (Woody Harrelson), huh? He's the local insurance man that's not too fond of Ben because he has his eye on his girl-pal, Vialula (Julie Warner).

Granted, Vialula doesn't succumb to Ben's charms straight away. No. Of course she doesn't. She's not a sl*g. She has some very holistic leanings, which makes it very difficult for Ben to find his way into her heart. Still. That's most probably explains why what next transpires all goes oink-oink when a medical crisis causes a stir. As a doctor needs some help - a parade lets out a loud yelp - goodbyes are hard to come by - and after a round trip to Hollywood, Ben finally realizes he can not live a lie.




THE REVIEW:
Now if I think about it for a moment or two, folks, 'Doc Hollywood' is a film that plays out on four different levels. On a cosmetic level it's a nineties film that comes across in a very fifties and eighties style. On a visceral level it tells a tale about a city boy who learns some hometown values under bold and stoic circumstances. On a romantic level it demonstrates that commitment and preconceived notions are never what they may initially seem. And on a personal level it's a great romantic comedy that has a great story and a great cast of characters in it.

Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, and the Pig, in Doc Hollywood
Yeah. I'm not injecting you with monkey-juice, pal. I actually said I liked a 'romantic comedy'. But not for its romantic value of course. Hell no. From my point of view this particular aspect never won me over at all. It just felt 'wedged' into these proceedings because of the type of film it is. What I'm referring to is how that the comedy was constructed and amalgamated into these proceedings.

Again, if I think about if for a moment or two, all of those 'medical sequences' were very sketch-like in nature, yet managed to integrate themselves into the overall story-line without any apparent or obvious 'jolts'. Also, a big shout out has to go to Michael J Fox for holding the weight of this film firmly on his shoulders, and Woody, David, and Bridget, for aiding him with this, by lavishing the screen with good old fashion no holds bard characterization.  

Granted, on the reverse side of my praise, I wasn't overly keen on the 'pig' or the 'mechanics' sub-plots. Because they never really seemed to go anywhere in retrospect. And as for the romance? Well? Sorry Julie. You appeared very cold and aloof to me. Plus playing 'hard to get' can appear quite irritating at times too.


Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood



Woody Harrelson in Doc Hollywood
Apart from that though -- ha! -- 'Doc Hollywood' was a great-great film. Here. Look at the facts. (1) 'Warner Brothers' first released this $17 million dollar production on the 2nd of August, 1991, and clawed back $54 million dollars at the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Doctor Career' in Italy; and 'Hollywood Doctor' in Turkey. (3) By in large the majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American states of California, Florida, and Virginia. In California you might notice different parts of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles. In Florida you might notice Alachua Country, Gainesville, McIntosh, and Micanopy. Plus in Virginia there's Mechanicsville and Richmond. (4) Did you know that this picture was loosely based on a book published in 1979 called 'What? Dead... Again?'? It was written by the Associate Professor, Neil Barnett Shulman, who eventually became one of the producers associated with this flick. (5) Just prior to making this movie, Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It began when he noticed a small persistent tremor in his left pinky finger. (6) The director of this film, Michael Caton-Jones, played the maitre'd in charge of the Los Angeles restaurant. (7) Maybe this is just a coincidence, but Woody Harrison's character, Hank, actually spurts out two jovial truisms in this film. The first one was when he says 'I don't trust a man who doesn't eat meat' -- because in real life Woody is a vegan. And the second one was when Nancy asks Hank 'Isn't that a star?', only for him to then reply 'No. That's Ted Danson' -- because Ted was Woody's co-star in the sitcom, 'Cheers'. (8) The film playing in the 'Squash Festival' scene was the 1927 Buster Keaton comedy, 'The General'.


Michael J. Fox and Julie Warner in Doc Hollywood


Overall 'Doc Hollywood' is one cracking film. The comedy was spot on. The romance was a bit hit and miss. The actors were great. And all in all it told a smashing tale that I feel is still very relevant today.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: A-