Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Katzman’s Cinema Komments # 9 – 3/1/08

Filed under: Humor,Katzman's 13 Vintage Movie Reviews,Katzman's Cinema Komments — Bob at 2:30 pm on Sunday, March 2, 2008

Doc Hollywood (1991) starring Michael J. Fox who was born in Western Canada in 1961, who is now 47 years old and sadly very ill with Parkinson’s disease, which terminated his career in the movies, is one of my favorite, romanticized views of small town life and the discovery of love when you weren’t looking for it. 

Fox is a skilled, overworked, underpaid, wise-ass, self-centered and tense emergency room doctor in a public hospital in New York City, repairing gunshot wounds, drug overdoses and other grim urban disasters who is totally unpopular with his fellow workers.   When he receives an inventation to join a very upscale plastic surgery practice in LA, he finds that no one wants to come to his farewell party, and he leaves his years long job without making a ripple.

That is our first impression of Fox, a subtle, sensitive, funny and very ingaging actor, whom audiences don’t so much like him as they want to adopt him.  Slight in stature at about 4’10”, he projects confidence, and irony and a willingness to endure what he cannot change, in this complicated story.

Eagarly leaving NYC behind on the Interstate going west, he encounters a road block far from any major urban areas and had to make a detour which takes him deeper into rural fantasyland in South Carolina.  He is driving his beloved snow white sports car, his prized possesion, and after suddenly missing a turn and becoming confused, plows into the white picket fence of the Mayor’s house.

Sentenced to community service, until his smashed up but rescuable car is repaired, by that Mayor, whom I believe is also the judge in a typical small town movie role where one character has multiple and unrelated jobs, just like in Baby Boom, (last week’s column) where the guy who comes to fix Diane Keaton’s dry well (or was it the roof?  Or both?  It doesn’t matter…)  is also the featured singer at the town dance.

After meeting a range of amusing townspeople, some who like him and some who scorn him as too stuck up for their little town, he is assigned to work with the very old but (naturally) beloved cranky Town Doc, who measures his wealth in babies born long ago who now are having their own babies, instead of material wealth.  His nickname, Doc Hollywood, is not attached to him with admiration.

There is a plan afoot, hatched by the devious Mayor and other co-conspirators, to somehow lure the dashing (to them) big city doctor to stay in their beautiful homey little town.  They even offer him a house, for free.  Not as chance, responds Fox, who yearns for the big bucks he will pile up reshaping floppy breasts, double chins and sagging rear ends.


Then appears Julie Warner in one of the most memorable first appearances by a new actress in my memory.  She is the town’s ambulance driver among other roles, and gives the old-fashioned complimentary term “fetching” a very vivid meaning to Mr. Young-Doctor-Going-Places-In-A-Hurry.  She also played the young wife of Billy Chrystal in the difficult to watch 50’s period, semi-comic film, Mr. Saturday Night (1992), after which she seemed to disappear from view on big screens.

Her first impression though, remains memorable to me, many years later.  You will have to decide about that item yourselves.

She alone cools his jets and suddenly he discovers not only the joys of taking time to smell the roses, but also the kinky but necessary task of stratigically peeing in the woods.  Well, gosh, someone’s gotta do it, y’ know!

There is the obligatory Saturday Night Dance, with both of them dancing while being dreamy-eyed (don’t try to drive under those circumstances) and the young Doc finds himself falling in love in a place he desperately wants to leave behind him.  Life can be so inconvenient, smetimes.

Then he learns some charming and surprising “country medicine” from the kindly old Town Doc, and then the whole town learns something about the modern life-saving medicine of the Big City Doctor, which finally earns Doc Hollywood some respect.  That only makes his now confused ambitions worse.

What does he really want?  Lots of money, a glamourous career and scores of sexy but empty-headed LA women at his feet?

Or does he really want Small Town Disneyland with only one, but-very-worth-it sweet young thing to share his life with?  

Given the choice, I’d take the LA deal, but keep a second house in the little town, to romance dear Miss earnest and beautiful.  But don’t think about that.  Hot LA women just can’t cut it sometimes, especially this time, I guess, because it isn’t just any girl that will pee in the woods with you, is it?

I love the movie, always want to give Michael J. Fox a hug, wish to myself that if only there really was “Hollywood Magic” and someone could cure his Parkinsons Disease, and never tire of watching the ensemble interact, even though I know all the lines by now.  Oh, and there’s this pig on a leash in the movie, too, but…..that’s another story.  And, um, the young Doc smashes up his car, REALLY smashes up his car, when fruitlessly trying to escape from the adorable little town.

It’s a real cliffhanger, folks! Go see it for yourself.

See you, under the Flickering Lights…

Robert M. Katzman


Note from the Author:


Robert M. Katzman, owner of Fighting Words Publishing Company, with four different titles currently in print and over 4,000 books sold to date, is seeking more retail outlets for his vivid and non-fiction inspirational books: 


Independent bookstores, Jewish and other religious organizations, Chicago historical societies or groups, English teachers who want a new voice in their class who was a witness to history, book clubs, high schools or museum gift shops.  I will support anyone who supports me by giving readings in the Chicago Metro area.  I have done this over 40 times, and I always sign my books, when asked.  Everyone, positively everyone, asks.  I was amazed, at first, by that.


Individuals who wish to order my books can view the four book covers and see reviews of them at www.FightingWordsPubco.com 


There are links to YouTube and podcasts, as well.  Or, anyone can call me directly at (847) 274-1474.  Googling my name will also produce all kinds of unusual results.  That other Robert M. Katzman, now deceased, whose name will also appear and who also published, was a doctor.  He actually bought one of my books!  Such a nice man.  Rest in peace, Dr. Katzman.


There will be short poems, stories and essays published in this space every two weeks by either myself or my co-blogist Richard G. Munden, or both.  If you find our postings thought provoking, moving or even amusing, please tell others to come view this site.  We will find our strength in your numbers.


 Next year, I will publish my fifth book, a collection of my best poetry and essays, called,


        I Seek the Praise of Ordinary Men


Individuals who know of independent bookstores that might be interested in a rough-hewn guy like me, who ran a chain of newsstands for 20 years in Chicago, please tell them about my books, will you?  I am partial to independent bookstores, having owned two, myself, until my last one was killed by the giant chains, in 1994. I still miss it. 


I’m also looking to find someone who would want to make a play out of some of my stories in the Chicago area, so I could go there and do some readings sometimes.  I think there’s enough honest sex, drugs and rock n’ roll to hold anyone’s interest, as well as a lot of authentic dialogue from ordinary people in extraordinary situations.  I think the plays would work anywhere, frankly, in some intimate theater with talented actors.



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