In the Dark: Dr. T and the Women
Eric D. Snider
Some of you may be fans of Richard Gere, particularly after he starred opposite large-mouth bass impersonator Julia Roberts in last year's successful "Runaway Bride" motion picture.
As fans, then, you may be tempted to go see Gere's new movie, "Dr. T and the Women," which opens 13 October. As a film critic, I feel it is my duty to warn you with all the energy of my soul: DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! It will wrestle you to the ground and destroy you with its mighty idiocy and numbing boredom, and at the end, you will see the most horrifying thing you have ever seen in a movie, which I will tell you about in graphic detail later on.
In the movie, Richard Gere plays a gynecologist named Dr. T. Right away, you can see how this is going to be a problem: It's a movie about gynecology. Also, it's called "Dr. T and the Women," when we all know a far more entertaining film would be "Mr. T and the Women," in which '80s has-been Mr. T plays a gynecologist who treats yeast infections and occasionally takes time to pity a fool.
Anyway, "Dr. T and the Women" takes the viewer through several emotions. First you wait patiently, perhaps smilingly, as things start to get under way and the general tone is one of humor and whimsy. Then you get bored when you realize you're well into the film and still nothing has happened. Then you get angry at the thought that the movie seems to be doing this on purpose, intentionally taunting you with misogyny, sexism, and sheer thundering dullness. Finally, you're furious at the film's stupid, nauseating ending, and you storm out of the theater with your fists clenched, hoping that director Robert Altman is making a surprise personal appearance at your local multiplex so you can punch him in the face.
Apparently shot in real time over a period of several years, the movie centers around Dr. T, who worships and honors womanhood, though you have to wonder why. His wife, played by Farrah Fawcett, is stark raving mad; his sister-in-law is a drunken stumblebum; one daughter is a conspiracy theory nut, the other is a low-scale lesbian; his office receptionist is Shelley Long, reminding us how funny she was on "Cheers," and how long ago that was.
Early on, Farrah Fawcett's character goes nutty, strips off her clothes, and gads about nakedly in a public fountain. (Actually, I suspect this may be surveillance-camera footage of Farrah Fawcett at an actual shopping mall. But I kid the insane old woman!) If you were a teenage boy in the 1970s, you probably spent much of your free time wishing you could see Farrah Fawcett naked. Please be aware that much time has passed since then. I have to give her credit, though: Farrah Fawcett may be well into her fifties, but her body double still has quite an attractive figure.
So with his wife in the nut house, Dr. T goes through a period of grieving and mourning that involves having an affair with Helen Hunt, whose hair is so straight you can actually use it in drawing architectural designs.
And so the movie goes on and on and on and on and on forever and ever with no sign of stopping. Nothing ever happens, mind you; the characters just sit around and talk. It's the longest two-hour movie ever made, clocking in at just under seventeen days in length.
All of this is bad enough already; the horrible conclusion just comes as a nice, friendly kick in the face on top of the beating we've already taken. See, Dr. T delivers a baby at the end. No big deal, right? Lots of movies have women giving birth, and it stands to reason that Dr. T, as a gynecologist, might help deliver one.
Yes, except that this movie actually shows it happening. In full, graphic detail. Robert Altman actually found a real, live pregnant woman, paid her who-knows-how-much money, shoved a camera between her legs, and let 'er rip. The baby comes out in a most unbecoming matter, complete with a number of revolting substances that I find it difficult to believe the human body can actually produce, let alone smear all over a baby before popping it out.
Did you hear me? If you watch this movie, you will have a crotch-level view of the wonders of childbirth. If this were my wife, delivering what I presumed to be my child, then perhaps my feelings of overpowering revulsion and emotional disquiet would be replaced with an awe at the beauty of nature and the miracle of bringing new life into the world. But since this is a woman I don't know, whose face we don't even see, it's just gross.
If this is the sort of thing you want to see in a movie, then so be it. Just don't say I didn't warn you, and please be sure to warn others, too. Anyone who has to see the film unaware of what unpleasantness awaits them, well, I pity the fool.