So where do you go if you're an ex-doctor with a critically
wounded patient to treat? Why, an out-of-the-way biker bar, of course.
Once you walk in the door with blood on your coat, they'll know you
have a patient in the car and will invite you to bring the patient into
the back room. They'll even be happy to assist with the operation.
As recently deposed doctor Eugene Sands, David Duchovny is the
only reason to see PLAYING GOD, not that he is nearly reason enough.
In his ubiquitous voice-over, he gets the best lines in Mark Haskell
Smith's script. His one-liners are sometimes funny and other times
wise. ("Life is all a matter of perspective," and "Hell does not
always look like hell. On a good day, it can look a lot like L.A.")
The promising trailers for the film contain most of the good lines.
The story opens on a drugged Eugene -- who lost his license by
operating while stoned -- looking to score some heroin in a bar. When
the guy next to him is blasted by some disagreeable thugs, he practices
a little illegal medicine on the victim as he squirts blood everywhere.
PLAYING GOD is the goriest film I've seen this year and the most
gratuitously violent. When the tedious story starts dragging, as it
does frequently, director Andy Wilson has someone stick something in a
vein so blood can splatter the set.
Wilson's direction is aimless and confusing. When they are not
throwing fits, his actors speak in whispers, which, admittedly, in this
film is not necessarily a bad thing.
Timothy Hutton plays a criminal named Raymond Blossom, who takes a
liking to Eugene since it was one of his men that Eugene patched up in
the bar. Raymond likes him so much that he interrupts Eugene's nice
heroin high by having him fetched. "Is kidnapping your only way to
make new friends?" Eugene asks.
Hutton alternates between lethargy and overacting. One minute he
is spaced out, and the next he has a temper tantrum. At first, the
script makes him seem the good bad guy as opposed to his Estonian
associates playing the bad bad guys, who attempt a world record for the
most uses of the F-word in a single minute. The movie delights in
attempts to shock the audience through blood and language. (I happened
to glance at my wife at one point during the show, and she looked back
holding her nose.)
"Tonight, I said to myself, 'I will not get high,' " Eugene tells
the audience. "I might just as well have said to myself, 'Tonight, I
will not breathe.' " And when the obligatory sequence comes where
Eugene goes cold turkey to give up his habit, he makes it look no worse
than a case of the flu. A few chocolate bars are all it takes.
Plot holes and improbabilities abound. If any of the characters
were likable, the frequent required leaps of faith might begin to get
on your nerves, but with this collection of lowlifes, one has trouble
caring. Even the lead FBI agent in charge of the case acts like a
spoiled and smart-aleck fraternity kid. Only David Duchovny gives this
film any humanity and provides any respite from its oppressive
PLAYING GOD runs 1:33. It is rated R for gore, excessive
violence, hard drug usage, profanity, etc. The film is not appropriate
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes