by Greg Muskewitz
Robert Altman's new movie "Dr. T & the Women" begins to lose points shortly after completion, and even faster once you give it any thought. What it amasses to is nothing short of sexist (anti-females), and compiled with the overdoses of chaos, "Dr. T & the Women" is too quick with the self-congradulatory mindset to notice the riven flaws.Dr. T (Richard Gere) is a Dallas gynecologist ("What kind of doctor is he?"/ "The lucky kind!") with a wife (Farrah Fawcett) who's suffering from Hestia Complex, an engaged daughter with secret lesbian tendencies (Kate Hudson), and one who's jealous (Tara Reid). Plus, his alcoholic sister-in-law (Laura Dern) is staying with them for the wedding. When T meets Bree ("Bree, like 'breed' without the 'd,'" or "Like 'breech' without the 'ch,'" so as not to confuse it with the "cheese spelling."), played by Helen Hunt, a golf pro, he begins to shift his priorities. During this, and as it progresses (regresses?), everything goes haywire.
"Altman's venture into misogyny."
One must give credit to Altman for the assembly of his ensemble (he also has Liv Tyler, Andy Richter, Shelley Long, and plenty others), but for what they flocked to, I don't know. Considering the sexist material, one wonders how smart these women really are. There are quite a few well-constructed and funny scenes. I found myself laughing at some of the situations and some dialogue, but the quirkiness of it was quick to wear off. Also, the majority of the performances shine, with the exception of Fawcett, who, foremost looks awful, and secondly acts terribly. That was a huge casting folly. Gere, as a matter of fact, has one of his best roles ever, but then you might remember he's never done anything all that substantial. (Just think: "Runaway Bride" meets "American Gigolo.")
There are plenty of excruciating scenes dealing with his practice (at one point, I thought the tool he was using was a shoehorn) and Altman manages to get most of the actresses to bear a little of something each. But all the women are downgraded to pathetic, lame and shallow caricatures. None of them are shown in a positive light, and all have at least one unredeemable or unsanctioned quality (promiscuity, vanity, dementia, selfishness, superiority, drunken obliviousness, et al.) for this to qualify as misogynistic. So my query of "Anne Rapp" (see my "Cookie's Fortune" review) is further fueled: no women would have written this. Anyway, "Dr. T" also digs itself into an Alan Rudolph/"Breakfast of Champions"-type hole of overly chaotic developments. Hell, you feel Dr. T's stress, so when he's pulling out his hair, you're pulling out yours too. It's too much strain, and itís way to demanding. The chaos has a huge detrimental effect on the mood and palpability.
The lingering shots and ridiculous ending (including a real childbirth) push this farther from any middle-ground. While the movie doesn't immediately bother you after seeing it, it's a type of movie that loses all legitimacy, especially in relation to the usage of women, when you think about it. And that, coming from Altman who supposedly is a pro, is unexceptable.
But the exterior cinematography and opening long shot are impressive. The latter was nicely structured, timed, coordinated and executed. The first two minutes were the most unique and entertaining.Final Verdict: C-.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4509&reviewer=172
originally posted: 11/14/00 08:37:19