Saturday, March 28, 2009


Novocaine is a dark comedy starring Steve Martin that centers on a murder plot. I saw this film years ago, but didn't remember if I liked it or not. I viewed it again recently, and came away mildly satisfied. This film was tedious at times and hilarious at others. If you are a fan of Martin's brand of comedy, you will probably enjoy this film.

Novocaine begins in the office of Doctor Frank Sangster (Steve Martin), a Dentist with a bustling office. Sangster's Dental Assistant Jean (Laura Dern) is also his fiance. The two have a seemingly passionate relationship until a strange girl (Susan, played by Helena Bonham Carter) shows up in his chair complaining of a painful tooth. The attraction causes Sangster to call his relationships into question while prompting him to make several bad decisions.

Doctor Sangster's peccadilloes begin to add up until he seems trapped in his own lies. However, you get the feeling that Sangster is being set up. His brother Harlan (Elias Koteas) blows into town to create some diversion. The fact that Harlan is a drug addict and at one time had his eyes set on Jean don't seem to cause Sangster enough pause to deny his brother. The introduction of Susan's brother Duane (Scott Caan) further complicates matters...especially when Duane shows up dead in Sangster's home, covered in Sangster's teeth marks. The show takes a couple of bizarre turns before the happily ever after ending.

Some elements of Novocaine were predictable, but the overall plot remained veiled for a good portion of the film. Several times during the film, small clues were dropped that began to make sense in retrospect, leading up to the ending. I found the pacing to be fairly good for most of the film, but there were times where Sangster's bad choices got under my skin. Of course, that was part of the plot. The dialogue was excellent. The exchanges between characters seemed believable within the context of a comedy film. The sub-plots were designed to keep you guessing...they worked effectively to that end. The story was not exceptional, but it was entertaining enough for a tempered recommendation.

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