Novocaine Movie Review

Writer-director David Atkins presents what may be one of the slickest and most skillful black comedies of the year in the blistering thriller Novocaine. Atkins cleverly drills in the point that there's more to the decaying of one's existence besides rotten gums, serving up a filling of macabre antics surrounding the world of dentistry. And what better way to convey the sardonic wit and quirkiness of his storyline than to feature manic and sharp-edged comic actor Steve Martin as doomed dentist Frank Sangster? Martin previously played another wacky smock-wearing oral surgeon in the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors, but as Dr. Sangster, Martin gets to more fully explore the mischievous and seedily outlandish scope of Atkins's crackling imagination.

Dr. Sangster seemingly has things under control in his life. Frank has a thriving dental practice and is even engaged to his efficient hygienist Jean (Laura Dern). Still, with everything going to plan, Frank cannot help but feel receptive to any sort of shake-up to his routine. Just once, he would like to stir things up a bit in an effort to get out of his rut. Frank even wants to engage in some kinky practices in the dental chair, but Jean won't accommodate him. Hence, Frank is left with a hankering naughty urge to satisfy.

Frank will soon get the excitement he always craved, but with deadly results. The downward spiral begins to unravel when a mysterious, sexy stranger named Susan Ivy (Helena Bonham Carter) comes calling when she inquires about a root canal. Frank becomes infatuated with the seductive patient and hastily gives her a prescription and an appointment for the following morning. While the sinister Susan is making her way into the good dentist's horny heart, Frank's riffraff brother Harlan (Elias Koteas) suddenly shows up. Harlan, up to no good, invades his brother's drug supply at the office. As bad luck would have it, Frank's new lusty target Susan and his scheming sibling are a tag team working to scam the unsuspecting doctor for drugs. Frank's world is almost immediately turned upside down, taking him into a sordid world of sex, murder, and drugs.

Novocaine (actually misspelled -- the dental drug is called Novocain) provides much of a natural high. The direction is spotty at times and the players seem to arbitrarily weave in and out of preposterous jams throughout the overly busy script, but Atkins does provide a feisty forum where his protagonists have fun exploring this deranged journey into decadence. With snappy, crisp dialogue and a sense of warped adventure, Novocaine is one absurd fable that hysterically unfolds itself in wry fashion. The slapstick may occasionally undermine the suspense, but the film sustains much of its toxic potency -- only occasionally leaving you numb.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , Daniel M. Rosenberg


Comments

Novocaine Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 2001

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