Doc Hollywood (1991)
I suspect that your version of romance is whatever will separate me from my panties - Lou
Whilst on his way to an interview for a well paid job as a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, young doctor Ben Stone (Michael J. Fox) accidentally crashes his classic sports car into the fence of the judge of Grady. His punishment for this accident is to do community service at their small town hospital, something which Ben is not happy about. But when he meets the attractive ambulance driver, Lou (Julie Warner), who emerges from the lake naked, his attitude changes and his forced stay in the quirky small town of Grady starts to become more pleasurable than he ever expected.
In all honesty compared to many of Michael J. Fox's other movies "Doc Hollywood" feels quite rudimentary, a bit too routine. But being routine doesn't really matter that much as there is something surprisingly entertaining about it, something which is enjoyable and keeps you watching despite that once the set up is put in place "Doc Hollywood" has very little which isn't predictable, with the exception of the famous lake scene featuring a naked Julie Warner rising from the water. Quote simply "Doc Hollywood" is the sort of movie which will entertain but won't leave you going wow that was great or different.
Although technically a romcom "Doc Hollywood" really works best watched as a mild comedy which plays on the obvious issues of a city doctor forced confinement in a small town. It is nothing new and we get served up a variety of those quirky small town characters and traditions which you get in any similar movie. When Ben comes up against the strict hospital nurse or the overfriendly old ladies who form a welcoming committee it's just fun, nothing more nothing less. Although saying that it does throw up a few surprises which certainly aren't your stereotypical scenes, such as when Stone and Lou sabotage a hunter's traps in the woods. It's the sort of scene which makes you sit up and pay attention and once the mild shock has passed leaves you cracking up.
As for the romance, well it's again routine and is why "Doc Hollywood" is predictable; you would have to be daft not to see where it will all end up. Although credit where it is due and director Michael Caton-Jones does his best to throw you off the scent where ever possible. Although predictable and to be honest not that believable, there is something about the blossoming romance which makes you want to see how it all pans out, probably down to the perfect pairing of Michael J. Fox and Julie Warner. But like with the comedy, there are elements to the romance which are unexpected such as the scene where Julie Warner emerges from the lake naked, it's just not the sort of thing you would expect from this sort of easy to watch romcom which for the most is an inoffensive family comedy.
What is very apparent is that "Doc Hollywood" is very much a movie created around Michael J. Fox despite being adapted from the book "What?...Dead Again?". Most of the movie plays on his likeable nature, the fact that he is obviously good looking and has this sort of nervous charisma about him which makes him appealing, even if he is unbelievable as a top Doctor. It's a performance from Fox which is not so much different to others he gives in the likes of "The Secret of my Success" and of course the "Back to the Future" movies but it's enjoyable and he does well to add a further dimension to a character which otherwise would have been completely text book Michael J. Fox.
Because Michael J. Fox is the big star of "Doc Hollywood" it has a knock on affect that everyone else ends up being little more than a supporting performer, even the gorgeous Julie Warner as love interest Lou. It's a shame as Julie Warner does a very good job in her role turning a 2 dimensional character into something more interesting and there is some obvious chemistry between her and Michael J. Fox. It's also a shame as their are some good performances from the rest of the cast such as David Ogden Stiers as the Mayor and Eyde Byrde who is wonderful as strict Nurse Packer. Plus there are others such as George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda and Woody Harrelson all of which do decent jobs with their minor characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Doc Hollywood" is very much your generic rom-com, especially one which premiered back in 1991. It throws up a few surprises such as Julie Warner emerging naked from a lake but for the most is as formulaic and predictable as it comes, trading on the likeability of Michael J. Fox. But then it is surprisingly entertaining and will make you laugh more than just a few times, with its look at quirky small town life.
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