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    Doc Hollywood

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . M15+ . NTSC

      Feature
    Contract

    Despite the runaway success of the Back to the Future franchise, during the late eighties and early nineties Michael J. Fox seemed doomed to endlessly reprise his role of egotistic yuppie Alex Keaton from Family Ties. The most endearing of his projects from this time was a little character-based romantic comedy from 1991, which saw the Fox stereotype pitted against the arch-nemesis of the big-city yuppie – the honesty and small-town values of the American heartland.

    Escaping the endless bullet wounds and drug overdoses of a Washington ER, young, headstrong surgeon Ben Stone (Fox) and his ’67 Porsche are cruising their way to Los Angeles and a comfortable six figure salary as a cosmetic surgeon (Stone, not the Porsche) when a derivative Hollywood plot befalls them: Swerving to avoid some cattle on a lonely country road, the pair career out of control; finally coming to rest in the small town of Grady, South Carolina. Stepping out into the ruins of the local judge’s white picket fence, young Dr. Stone is sentenced to 32 hours community service in the chronically under-staffed local hospital.

    With no choice in the matter (his Porsche is in no fit state to continue), Stone complies - much to the appreciation (and enthusiasm) of the local community. Soon the hospital waiting room is full of straw hats and dungarees, and the local mayor (David Ogden Steirs) is showering Stone with offers of insubstantial salaries and trying valiantly to convince him to stay. To his surprise, Stone actually finds himself torn by indecision; tempted to stay in this ‘Hee-Haw Hell’ not by the diminutive salary offers, but a very beautiful, (and very naked I might add) ambulance driver and law student Viola-Lou (Julie Warner). But previously burned by a big-city big-mouth, this voluptuous high-spirited single mother sees straight through Stone; dismissing his advances and making herself even more irresistible in the process...

    Despite the hopelessly well-worn premise, Doc Hollywood is a refreshingly entertaining romantic comedy that, despite not moving outside its well-defined genre constraints, provides ample opportunity for wry character-driven comedy. Characteristically, Michael J. Fox is in turn caustic and charming as the yuppie doctor destined to re-evaluate his life, and convincingly sells Stone’s predictable character arc. The beautiful Julie Warner also gives a spirited performance (why haven’t we seen more of her?) as Stone’s down to earth love interest; adding credibility to the change she affects in him.

    Surrounding the leads, Grady is populated with a bunch of fine character actors, and each is given a chance to build substantially on the laughs. As Grady’s mayor, part southern gentleman and part yokel, David Ogden Steirs plays against his well-known M*A*S*H alter-ego to great effect. Woody Harrelson is also entertaining in his typical role of low-IQ loud-mouth, and Bridget Fonda adds spice as the mayor’s horny daughter wishing to escape the confines of small-town life. Too numerous to mention, the rest of the townsfolk provide a textured and highly amusing backdrop to proceedings. In turn, director Caton-Jones does a great job contrasting the relative sterility and isolation the big-city with the warmth of the insular small-town community.

    The results are a light, laugh-filled comedy from which fans of the genre, or those looking for a lazy night in, may well derive a chuckle. In addition to Teen Wolf, it certainly rates as one of Michael J. Fox's most entertaining films post BTTF.

      Video
    Contract

    Whether it's a case of saving money or just going through the motions, Warner's questionable practice of foisting NTSC discs onto our region is again in evidence with their release of Doc Hollywood. Now, I could almost understand this practice if the NTSC content at Warner’s disposal was of decent or even acceptable quality, but in this instance what we are supplied with is completely woeful. Hardly worth the cost of packaging and distribution, the poor-quality, full-frame image Warner serve up here is one of the worst transfers I’ve seen in recent memory,

    Seemingly taken from a VHS pan-and-scan master, the image displays all manner of video nasties. Literally swimming with video grain, whilst the colours and black level are acceptable, detail - and especially shadow detail - is poor. At times there's also a distracting amount of edge enhancement and, especially in the first reel, telecine wobble is an unwelcome addition. Unseen amongst the grain, film and compression artefacts are acceptable, but at the end of the day it's small comfort. A bitter disappointment for fans of Michael J Fox, and a real surprise given the generally high standard of DVD releases these days, I just can’t believe one of our region’s major distributors would release shit like this.

      Audio
    Contract

    Again, the audio track provided here is hardly worth the time spent typing about it. Although serviceable enough, it too has been drawn from the same video master and the results are a Dolby Digital stereo mix that never ventures from the front channels, displays limited channel separation, and features only limited dynamic range. Thankfully, although the southern drawls are often hard to understand, the dialogue is reasonably clear and distinct throughout and although the rest of the mix is decidedly lacklustre, the romantic-comedy genre requires little else.

      Extras
    Contract

    No. I’m afraid there are none. Not a one. And the menus, which simply sport the Warner logo, mark a disappointing interface to a disappointing disc.

      Overall  
    Contract

    Despite its lacklustre treatment by Warner, Doc Hollywood is an enjoyable (if predictable) romantic comedy filled with quirky rural characters, a satisfying romantic thread and some sharp, snappy dialogue. Certainly I would recommend it as a bit of light weeknight entertainment, but collectors - steer clear of this particular disc at all costs.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1894
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      And I quote...
    "...a highly enjoyable (if predictable) romantic comedy, utterly spoilt by a disappointing transfer. Caveat Emptor..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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