Doc Hollywood is a film purpose built to allow Michael J Fox to be likable (if a little smug) in quirky surroundings, it also has some bizarre inexplicable nudity that is odd in what would otherwise be a PG 13 family flick.
Fox is Ben Stone, a young hotshot surgeon waylaid momentarily in the sleepy small town of Grady (Squash capital of the South!) on the way to LA to apply for a more cushy yet higher paid job as a plastic surgeon… he also plans to learn to surf.
But alas for Stone a fence related automobile accident lands him in trouble, 32 hours of community service as the local doctor’s replacement trouble.
Now Stone is temporarily locum-ing for a cantankerous long time local doc who is laid up, and while the local townsfolk lay out the red carpet the staff of the hospital do not. The matron is particularly unsociable and by the book, and the ambulance driver Lou – who never gets a job for the duration of the film – is matter of fact once she realises that Stone is merely temping.
Now it should be mentioned that Lou (Julie Warner) is a lady, she is also responsible for the inexplicable nudity earlier on. She twigs pretty quickly that Stone sees her as ‘something to do’ while he is in town and spurns his every smarmy advance. A bet with a local only serves to increase Stone’s wooing two-fold.
Meanwhile another local vacuous Paris-like gold digger played by Bridget Fonda is openly willing to do anything in order to get out of town and sees Stone as a well presented, four foot 6 ticket out of town.
What follows is the typical quirky fare that seem to populate these films while the formerly arrogant and single-minded lead character learns where he truly belongs. He is given a pig in lieu of payment for his services, has various amusing adventures and encounters with patients and locals including Woody Harrelson as a rival suitor for Lou’s affections… and all the while the local pageant and highlight of the year is a comin’.
This is entirely formulaic fare, but dammit Michael J Fox was just so damn likable at this time of his career that it is hard to… well… not like him in this. And because he is the guy on the poster and there are enough cute moments (and unexpected nudity) along the way it makes Doc Hollywood difficult to hate.
Even with all that said this was a 6.5 until the final minute or so, in a scene set in LA someone asks “Is that a star?” and Woody Harrelson’s character replies offscreen “No, that’s Ted Danson”. For some reason that cracked me up so much that I was still chuckling half way through the credits.
If getting the ending right is half the battle in a film that 5 second exchange nailed it for me, and pushed Doc Hollywood up to a “Worthwhile” 7. And if I’m wrong then it’s just a harmless and likable unambitious flick with a bit of tit, and that’s not bad either.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Not much to recommend, but nothing much to put you off watching it either.