Friday, August 21, 2015


Directed By: Michael Canton-Jones 
Written By: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman & Daniel Pyne 
Adaptation By: Laurian Leggett 
Based on the book “What?…Dead Again?” By: Neil Shulman 
Cinematography By: Michael Chapman 
Editor: Priscilla Nedd-Friendly 
Music By: Carter Burwell 

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, Woody Harrelson, David Ogden Stiers, Bridget Fonda, Frances Sternhagen, Barnard Hughes, George Hamilton, Helen Martin, Roberts Blossom, Kelly Jo Minter, Barry Sobel
--Benjamin Stone is a young doctor driving to L.A where he was offered a new job as a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. He gets off the highway to avoid a traffic jam, but gets lost and ends up crashing into a fence in the small town of Grady. He is sentenced to 32 hrs of community service at the local hospital. All he wants is to serve the sentence and get moving, but gradually the locals become attached to the new doctor, and he falls for the pretty ambulance driver, Lou. Will he leave?

This film to me is like he movie version of the television series NORTHERN EXPOSURE all rolled up into one.

Now while it isn't exactly the same it is similar enough for comparison. Though of course different enough for no lawsuits to be made.They both involve a called hot shot city slickers forced to stay in a more woodsy type of town. While they are there not onto do they become the towns doctor, but also fall in love with a more tomboyish beauty and also bond with the various quirky citizens to the town. While learning lessons in humility, community and in time gets in tune with their wavelengths.

So of course the studio knew it had a hit as it has a similar appeal for audiences.

Now this and some other Michael J Fox. Movies are more sentimental then they should be as his is an obvious piece of cinema designed to pull on the heartstrings of the audience. While representing what people who live in cities secretly think about the more Midwest small towns and a stereotype of what the small towns wish they were like and I suspect see themselves as. So the film appeals across the board for most audiences.

Why the film brings a certain level of emotions for me. Is that in the 80's and 90's I really looked up to Michael J. Fox he was one of my favorite movie stars and after the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies. He always seemed to struggle when it came to material. Trying many different types of roles, but none over seemed to bring as much success as his earlier movie work. Still I stayed a huge fan. And as usually every weekend went to the movies with my father. Whenever fox had a new film come out. My father usually took me. Sometimes as he used to do people's taxes we would have to drive around all day. So that would take us usually to New Jersey, queens or Long Island. I used to enjoy going to movie theaters outside of Brooklyn and Manhattan as to me at the time they seemed so exotic. So seeing this film is a unfamiliar place only enhanced the experience.

It also tells you if an actor was famous or semi-famous in the 80's. I am probably still a fan or see them favorably. This was one of the last of fox's bigger hits. As it did respectable, but not major business. Though I remember it being #1 at the box office for at least two weeks. When you had to watch entertainment tonight or at least I did. To get the week's top five box office numbers. Before the E! Channel.

Plus as this film is more warm and nostalgic as it has a glows it matches my memory of my dearly departed father. So though this film might not be a classic it has a certain level of meaning and emotion for me. That it normally probably wouldn't get.

The film has a nice set of characters and early performances. This was one of the first films I remember seeing Bridget Fonda in and she is sexy yet funny as the flirtatious daughter of the town's mayor. This was also one of Woody Harrelson's first big movie roles. He was still on CHEERS at the time. Yet obviously wanted to move into the movies and here he is quite funny and intimidating as a romantic rival for Michael j fox's crush. Playing a smarter version, yet still Woodsy type of his CHEERS character. Though even here you could tell he has charisma and well off comedic timing.

At one point Hank Gordon says, "I don't trust a man who doesn't eat meat." In real life, Woody Harrelson is a vegan. While in the restaurant in LA, Nancy Lee asks Hank (Woody Harrelson), "Isn't that a star?" He replies, "No, that's Ted Danson." Danson was Harrelson's Cheers co-star. Which was one of the funniest lines in the movie. Even if it is a throwaway one.

One scene I still remember vividly is when fox's character is ready to do evasive major surgery on a kid and the town's doctor comes by gives the kid a soda and solves his malady. It's shocking yet humorous. Also allowing to showcase in a minor way new school versus old school. In method, tact and reasoning. Plus medicine versus home remedies.

Also even though this was a family film. It snuck some nudity in it. Which was a nice and welcome surprise as a teenager. When you got nudity and wasn't expecting it. For you more modern audiences think of the Bernie Mac film SOUL MEN.

This film is a nice simple little gem. That while not the most original is a film that is worthy of being discovered. Even if it just feels like a basic studio comedy. That was pushed and Promoted, but not coveted. Nor given the respect it deserves.

Grade: B-

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