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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.76%
Worth A Look42.86%
Average: 11.9%
Pretty Bad: 11.9%
Total Crap: 28.57%

3 reviews, 24 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Helps numb the pain of all the unoriginal movies we have to sit through."
4 stars

The thing about being attracted to someone, Dr. Frank Sangster tells us, is that “you find yourself doing things and you have no idea why.”

“Novocaine” is all about those things, and the insanity they can lead to. In this rather Hitchcockian dark comedy/suspense drama from writer/director David Atkins, a middle-of-the-road dentist is driven to extremes by the woman he has the hots for, and he’s the subject of a murder investigation, too.

The dentist is the aforementioned Frank, played with quiet befuddlement by the incomparable Steve Martin, who proves himself more invaluable to our collective consciousness each time he appears on the scene. Frank has a successful practice and is engaged to his blond hygienist, Jean (Laura Dern), who is a lovely, all-American gal. Still, he longs for something more -- something exciting or different.

Proving the adage that you should be careful what you wish for, Frank is visited by a new patient, Susan Ivey (Helena Bonham Carter), who tricks him into prescribing drugs for her in addition to stealing all the narcotics he has in the office. The problem would be easily solved with a quick phone call to the police, but Frank has unfortunately been mesmerized by the mysterious femme fatale.

We should also mention the worthless brothers: Frank’s (played by Elias Koteas), and Susan’s (Scott Caan), both of whom figure into things later.

That’s how things go in these movies: A normal guy gets drawn into non-normal situations, usually due to a mistake he made that was serious enough to demand attention, but not serious enough to deserve all this.

It’s a modern example of film noir, in many ways, aided by Danny Elfman’s loudly ominous score and the presence of dangerous women and an innocent man whom no one believes. If you can accept the unlikely way Frank gets into the mess -- by not turning Susan in to the cops early on -- it’s an exciting adventure with more than a few good laughs along the way. (Kevin Bacon is very funny as a self-serious Hollywood actor who “interrogates” Frank while doing research for an upcoming cop movie.)

Bonham Carter and Dern are solid in their very different roles, and Caan is as obstreperous as one expects him to be. Elias Koteas is perhaps under-used as Frank’s brother.

In the end, some of the revelations come a bit too easily, but it leads to a resolution that is delightfully, painfully original. “Novocaine” is unusual, but in an accessible, crowd-pleasing way. And you may never look at your dentist the same way again.

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originally posted: 11/14/01 09:28:02
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User Comments

1/06/13 MatthewThompsonDalldorf Yeah, it's a movie 3 stars
7/16/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Not bad, but not as good as I thought it would be. 3 stars
10/21/06 AnnieG More than just "good guy ruins his life over lust for druggie skank" , but not much. 3 stars
7/17/05 R.W. Welch Unconvincing as drama; unfunny as comedy. A skipper. 2 stars
4/25/04 Amy The worst ecting ever, terrible 1 stars
4/13/04 Jean pretty conventional, almost sucks. Dern is great 2 stars
3/26/04 bruce miller dont waste your time 2 stars
3/13/04 Caiphn A good flick. 4 stars
1/18/04 steve andrews "Novocaine" is a unique, quirky and dark comedy. Give it a watch. 4 stars
4/20/03 Dillon As much fun as a root canal; Stevo & cast fail miserably 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Unwisely turns into a thriller after starting off deftly as dark comedy. 2 stars
12/22/02 Pigwidgeon Beneath the funny is a heart of nasty and noir. Martin rules. 5 stars
9/26/02 Morally Sound Who knew dentists could be so funny? 4 stars
8/04/02 mattski bang on review. the film is ok in a good kinda way 4 stars
7/30/02 Monday Morning Steve, PLEASE do more movies like "The Jerk" and "Man With Two Brains" 2 stars
5/27/02 seldom scene PRETTY COOL non mainstream movie 4 stars
5/26/02 Keith A nice, refreshing alternative to the run-of-the-mill Hollywood drivel 4 stars
5/11/02 The Bomb 69 just not believable, not many laughs either 3 stars
4/26/02 Spyguy2 Steve Martin hasn't been funny since he removed the arrow from his head. 3 stars
11/25/01 King of the Bros Oh yeah well you guys suck!! 5 stars
11/22/01 steve goldenbaum Hey Billhead what are you, a fucking speak and spell? PHuck off! And the movie sucked. 1 stars
11/17/01 The Flaming Billhead Learn to spell, son! It's worst. Not worse. And the movie still sucks. 1 stars
11/17/01 The Flaming Chancehead What a used condom of a movie!I fuck this where it stands! The worse ever!! 1 stars
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  16-Nov-2001 (R)


  13-Sep-2001 (M)

Directed by
  David Atkins

Written by
  David Atkins

  Steve Martin
  Kevin Bacon
  Helena Bonham Carter
  Laura Dern
  Elias Koteas
  Scott Caan

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