It's no accident Dr. Mumford (Loren Dean, Apollo 13) has the same
name as the town he lives in; you see, he moved to Mumford because
the town bore his name. "I thought it was a sign," he says. It's
not until much later that we learn that Mumford is not really his name,
and, in fact, nothing about him is as it appears.
After a while, Dr. Mumford has treated many people and gotten to know
the community quite well. Skip Skipperton (Jason Lee, Chasing Amy),
the young billionaire who owns a successful modem manfacturing company,
seeks Dr. Mumford's services as a companion more than as a therapist
it seems, since most of the townspeople work for him, Skip has trouble forming
meaningful relationships. Henry Follett (Pruitt Taylor Vince) has such a
low self-esteem that he's not even in his own romantic fantasies.
Althea Brockett (Mary McDonnell, Dances With Wolves) seems to revel
in her emotional dysfunction by filling her home with mail-order merchandise.
And Nessa Watkins (Zooey Deschanel, fabulous in her debut film performance)
is a teenager obsessed with fashion models and weight loss, even though
she's already built like a stick.
But the doctor's most intriguing patient is Sophie Crisp (Hope Davis,
Arlington Road), a young woman who
has suffered a sudden attack of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and is so tired
and depressed she is hardly able to get out of bed in the morning. The doctor
begins her treatment by taking walks around the town with her and talking.
Soon she begins to show real improvement, and their relationship as doctor
and patient begins to grow into something more personal, and less ethical.
Lawrence Kasdan's script for this film is intriguing, although the ending is a bit too tidy. As director, Kasdan expertly creates the feeling of community not only with the wide variety of characters (I haven't mentioned half of them), but by returning geographically again and again to the same locations, including an overlook that clearly suggests the small size of the town. Dean is perfect for this role; his deadpan style is comic and at the same time believable, but the flashback scenes (where he tells his life story to Skip) reveal the depth of his character. There is not a bad actor in this film, and its short running length is sprinkled with wonderful, subtle moments of quirky behavior and personal depth. ****½
See Current Reviews
See FilmQuips Archive