Plot: What’s it about?
Dr. Sullivan Travis (Richard Gere) used to have an ideal life, as he had money, a thriving business, a loving family, and little spoiled his fun. But Dr. T (as he is called) has some problems now, as his wife Kate (Farrah Fawcett) has suffered a mental breakdown, which left her in a childlike state and placed within a mental health hospital. Now that he is somewhat available in their eyes, the ladies in his area begin to make their movies, including his own secretary, but none seem to offer him much solace. So he continues to work at his gynecological office, where he always has a waiting room full of patients. As if his recent troubles weren’t enough, his daughter Dee Dee (Kate Hudson) is to be married soon, which sounds good, but his other daughter Connie (Tara Reid) is certain that she’s sleeping with Marilyn (Liv Tyler), her own maid of honor. But as his world continues to fall apart around him, Dr. T pushes ahead and hopes for a break, which he might have in the form of Bree (Helen Hunt), a new woman in town. Add in a meddling sister-in-law (Laura Dern) and her trio of nieces and Dr. T has a lot of problems, all of which are female related.
I’ve always looked forward to new Robert Altman films, but with a few misses of late, I didn’t have high hopes for Dr. T & The Women. As it turns out, the movie is a good one, but the storyline gets a little tiresome at times, even with such a talented cast. And that cast saves much of this one, as the criss crosses in plot are incoherent, which leaves a bad taste behind for the viewer. After such ensemble classics as Nashville and The Player, Altman is slipping somewhat of late, so let’s hope he can pull his career back on track soon. His direction here isn’t bad at all, but the writing doesn’t compensate for all the branches of the story well enough, which weighs down the film a lot. But Richard Gere is very good here, as is the supporting cast with such names as Helen Hunt, Tara Reid, Kate Hudson, and Farrah Fawcett, all of whom seem in fine form here. In the end, I think there is too much going on here, which leaves too many loose threads and that just isn’t what we expect from Altman and his flicks. But this is still a fun movie, so if you’re a fan of Altman or just want to see this one, by all means check it out.
He loves to make movies with large casts, so it is no surprise director Robert Altman stacked the deck here with a wealth of gifted performers. Of course, most of the cast here is women, but Altman still shows he can more than balance an ensemble cast. In truth, Dr. T & The Women seems more focused than some of Altman’s other flicks, as true leads seem to surface, even beyond the central character. But we’re still given a look into the lives of many characters here, just not as deeply as you might expect. I don’t think this is one of Altman’s finer efforts, but it is worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of his work. Other films by Altman include The Player, Nashville, M*A*S*H, PrΩt-α-Porter, Kansas City, Tanner ’88, and Short Cuts. The lead in this film is played by Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, Mr. Jones), who seems like a natural choice for the role. His likable persona and charm serve him well here, in another more than solid performance. The rest of the cast includes Helen Hunt (Twister, Cast Away), Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, A Perfect World), Farrah Fawcett (The Apostle, Logan’s Run), Tara Reid (American Pie, Body Shots), Liv Tyler (Armageddon, Empire Records), Kate Hudson (Gossip, Desert Blue), and Shelley Long (Troop Beverly Hills, The Money Pit).
Video: How does it look?
Dr. T & The Women is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Aside from a few small issues, this is a terrific visual presentation and I think fans will be very pleased. The image looks very sharp and clean, with only some slight edge enhancement to complain about. But the colors look very bold and vivid, also natural when needed though and flesh tones are normal and consistent. No issues with contrast either, as detail is high and black levels look razor sharp, no shadow depth problems at all. This is as close to perfect as you can get without being totally flawless, so I am giving this one very high marks.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but this material doesn’t need much dynamic audio, so don’t expect a speaker shaking experience. I think the most active element is the musical score, which comes off well here and sounds very full. A few scenes do showcase some nice surround use, but most sequences have little need for powerful sound effects presence. The main element here is the dialogue, which is crisp and clean at all times, with no volume troubles evident. This might not be the richest track on the market, but it more than handles this material, which is what counts.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc has a nice selection of bonus materials, including a cast & crew audio commentary track. This track is filled with insight, but I would have liked a solo track from Altman, as this one can be hard to follow and is not always screen specific. But it is still worth a listen, as the speakers have a lot of information to share. A ten minute behind the scenes featurette is also included, as well as an insightful fifteen minute interview with Robert Altman. You can also view the film’s theatrical trailer, five television spots, cast & crew information, and some production notes.