PG-13 Dir: Michael Caton-Jones | Warner (Archive) | 1h 44min
Plot: What’s it about?
I often talk about my childhood and the movies that I watched in my youth. I suffer from severe nostalgia because I had a great childhood in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of the films that was a real crowd-pleaser at our house was Doc Hollywood. I can’t remember if this was one that my big sister requested all the time or my brother, but I know that our family watched it tons of times. In the early Nineties, Michael J. fox could do no wrong (except for maybe Back to the Future III.) He was a staple at our house with the first two BTTF films, Teen Wolf, The Secret of my Success, and Homeward Bound. This movie finds Michael J. fox a the peak of his powers – before Life with Mikey.
He plays young hot-shot emergency room doctor Ben Stone. When we first meet Dr. Stone he is leaving the emergency ward after ten years of saving lives unceremoniously to move to Los Angeles and become a cosmetic surgeon. Everybody who works with him finds his lack of dedication appalling and consider him to be an “asshole.” On the drive to Los Angeles for his job interview, Dr. Stone accidentally crashes his Porsche in the small town of Grady. Due to the damage caused to the local judge’s fence, Dr. Stone is forced to perform thirty two hours of medical service for the small town. Grady would much rather keep Ben there than lose him to the big city, and Dr. Stone becomes embroiled in the lives of the eccentric townsfolk there. He also meets a young and beautiful woman who dreams of law school named Lou (Julie Warner.) From the moment he sees her skinny-dipping he becomes torn on his decision to leave the town.
Overall, Doc Hollywood is the type of comedy that is not made routinely anymore that was pumped out in the Nineties. It is a little bit corny and the plot mechanics are entirely predictable. That does not stop the film from being enjoyable if you can get into the archetypal roles and enjoy it for what it is. I particularly enjoyed Woody Harrelson as the small town bumpkin and insurance salesman Hank. My wife and I watched the movie this morning and it still has the same innocent qualities that made it successful back then. It does not try at all to be anything but a fun and somewhat romantic comedy. The only other concern on the film would be that it could have been shortened by about ten minutes. If you are looking for something lighthearted and a little corny, you can do a lot worse than Doc Hollywood.
Video: How’s it look?
Warner Archive did a good job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. The image looks natural and good, retaining most of the grain. The film displays occasional softness, and I believe that most of that is a product of the time in which it was filmed and holds no real bearing on the handling of the transfer. I did not notice any big discrepancies in the color correction. There are a couple of instances in the film where there is a noticeable drop in quality and grain becomes much more chunky, but overall this is another good transfer from Warner Archive. This would make the previous DVD look completely outdated. It is more than just lipstick on a pig.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Doc Hollywood has been given a sonic facelift with this DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. The dialogue is crystal clear and the soundtrack of the film has been given more room to expand in the stereo. While this film is mainly center based, I did notice some directionality during key scenes like at the carnival and during a particular car crash. I think Warner did an exceptional job on reviving this track to current standards.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Theatrical Trailer – Sorry folks, that’s all there is.
The Bottom Line
Doc Hollywood is a fun little romantic comedy about small town life in Anywheresville, U.S.A. This is not a film that tries to be realistic and it paints by numbers, but the charming characters and good performances elevate it to a fun little movie to watch as a family. Warner have done a great job of maintaining the film and sound elements. Despite the lack of special features, fans should be pleased to see the substantial upgrade over the previous DVD release. Recommended.
Editorial Note for parents: as a kid there was one scene where there is female nudity for about one minute that my parents made me run out of the room during. This scene will be easy enough to spot, and despite some cursing this film is pretty harmless.