A cool young surgeon named Ben Stone
Is headed for L.A.,
But lands in Grady, little-known,
Where he is forced to stay.
He trashed a fence, which trashed his ride,
And must do doctor duty.
The townsfolk welcome him with pride,
Except one country beauty.
Because Vialula/Lou’s been burned
By city boys before,
She leaves the flirting doctor spurned,
Though he tries even more.
The townspeople are full of quirks,
Like squash fan Mayor Nick,
And Melvin the mechanic works
On Ben’s car, none too quick.
There’s also Hank, who can foresee
Insurance aspirations,
And mayor’s daughter Nancy Lee,
Who dreams of long vacations.
As Ben cares for the populace,
In simple, closer ways,
He starts to feel that he will miss
This town, despite the raise,
Especially when Lou soon starts
To soften up to Ben.
Yet he can’t bear to break their hearts,
Since he’ll soon leave again.
When Ben rescues the stodgy doc
Named Hogue, who thinks him rude.,
The judge allows Ben Stone to walk;
Ben feels oddly subdued.
He tries to sneak away at night,
But moms he can’t ignore.
While he assists one pregnant plight,
His car is wrecked once more.
The town gives him a one-way flight
To L.A., and he goes,
But as he lives his dream all right,
He rues the path he chose.
When Hank and Nancy Lee appear,
Ben craves more than success.
He chooses Lou above career
And finds his happiness.

Doc Hollywood is one of Michael J. Fox’s most entertaining movies, presenting a kooky but affectionate glimpse of cinematic small town life. It doesn’t present them as backwards or stupid but rather eccentric and focused more on life’s simple pleasures: squash festivals, nice-looking pigs, and fishing—with dynamite. It’s impressive how many memorable characters they pulled off, from David Ogden Stiers as Mayor Nicholson; Bridget Fonda as his eager-to-leave daughter Nancy Lee; Woody Harrelson as Haymitch—I mean Hank Gordon; Barnard Hughes as the crotchety country doctor Aurelius Hogue; Frances Sternhagen as the deadpan diner waitress Miss Lillian, who can only make Hungry Man dinners; and the lovely Julie Warner as love interest Vialula; not to mention the two quirky mechanics, the stern Nurse Packer, and the family who come to the doctor’s office just to have their mail read. By the time Ben leaves and has to say goodbye to all these faces, the audience bears the same feeling of loss, of leaving “Shangri La” as the mayor calls Grady, South Carolina.

Sadly, the film is not completely wholesome, featuring some language and a scene with Lou completely nude that could easily have been cut since it adds nothing to the picture. Plus, a scene involving urination was rather uncomfortable and weird and again unnecessary.

Aside from this, the wistfully scored film is a hilarious romantic comedy that surprisingly bucks Hollywood convention by not having the two leads sleep together, though they’re tempted. It’s one of the few such scenes I’ve ever viewed that laudably eschews the “romance” of a one-night stand. Overall, Doc Hollywood could be a family movie with the appropriate cuts and one that my family watches whenever it’s on (such is my definition for a Watchability of 10).

Best line: (a woman in the background, as her grill is clearly on fire) “Mayor Nicholson, can you help check these ribs and tell me if they’re done?”

VC’s best line: (Nancy Lee, in L.A.) “Is that a star?” (Hank, played by Woody of Cheers fame) “No, that’s Ted Danson.”

Other best line: (Melvin the mechanic, looking at Ben’s totaled car) “I think I can fix that.”

Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 9
Entertainment: 10
Visual Effects: N/A (except for two brief car crashes)
Originality: 8
Watchability: 10
Other (nudity, language): -2
TOTAL: 42 out of 60

Next: #197 – The Great Escape

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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