Novocaine: Mind-numbingly Predictable
Phil Davetas
10/1/2002 10:42:41 PM

WARNING: Vague spoilers are amiss!

I’m convinced that Steve Martin is the corpse that would not die. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s cool and all, but a human being whose outlived the black plague and still looks like he’s only 80 years old is a tad peculiar. Steve Martin is the only gimmick to this little wannabe thriller. This is a movie designed for people who’ve never seen or made a thriller before. It seems like it wants to be little offbeat, but doesn’t have that quirky mentality. It tries to follow a noir theme, but lacks the ability to understand the complex nature of noir. And it doesn’t help that the movie is trying to be a guess-a-minute, only to turn around and unintentionally become a predict-a-minute.

Okay, Novocaine is predictable at every turn, but this might be because of my handicap of seeing too many movies. The movie starts out slow and descends into a world of things you’ve seen in any Brian De Palma flick. The story is about a dentist (Martin) who has a fiancé and starts banging the shit out of Helena Bonham Carter (with bad fake teeth) who gets him caught up in some missing pharmaceutical scandal. Then Carter has this evil brother who wants to fuck her all the time, which is supposed to make us lean toward Steve Martin. If you want your bad guy to look good, hold him up to a worse guy. If you want him to look even better, then have his friends and family betray him with an evil plot to give the illusion he was on the road to redemption all along—which is supposed to excuse all his faults.

There is funny little a cameo with Kevin Bacon and Keith David. Bacon plays an actor researching a role of a cop, and Lindo is the detective showing him around. Somehow they end up on Martin’s case and begin interrogating him. There is one line dropped by Bacon that spins the whole movie on its head. He says, “I know you didn’t do it. I mean, it’s so obvious that you did that you couldn’t possibly have done it. The audience will never buy it.” It’s a brilliant line and good use of set-up to announce the futility of Martin’s situation, but unfortunately the movie was not that consistent.

Boingo alumni Steve Bartek composes a very Elfmanish score to accompany a cool theme by Danny Elfman himself. With the music it almost makes you feel like you’re watching To Die For (the Nicole Kidman one).

Special Features:

Bitten, a goofy 8-minute featurette on dental forensics. Getting the Shot, a lame 10-minute featurette about the film. You learn little to nothing about the movie. Just actors flattering each other with plastic praise, but that’s to be expected. What are you gonna say? Steve Martin’s performance just sucked?

The deleted scenes are pretty lame and cut for the usual reasons—pacing.

Trailers: 2 Novocaine, Dr. T and the Women, Rambo Box Set, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Good Advice (some dopey Charlie Sheen rom-com) and Twin Peaks.

Music Excerpts from the TVT soundtrack with Danny Elfman, Steven Bartek, Penny and Mellow.

Production Notes and Cast and Crew.

Same old thing, different DVD.

Novocaine (2 out of Four)
R, 2001, 95 min., Artisan Home Entertainment.

Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Dern, Elias Koteas, Scott Caan, Keith David, Lynne Thugpen, Music by Steve Bartek Theme by Danny Elfman, Produced by Paul Mones, Daniel M. Rosenberg, Written and Directed by David Atkins.


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