If you dread going to the dentist, then David Atkins's NOVOCAINE is not the
movie for you. The bigger problem is that, even if you look forward to a
dental visit like a day at the spa, NOVOCAINE still isn't the movie for you.
A film noir without the noir, the story lies as flat and cold as a
two-day-old corpse at the morgue. It does provide some small pleasures.
There is Steve Martin's always reliable and intriguing acting, but that's
The movie opens with X-rays of people eating and talking. Fascinating,
creepy and kind of gross, these images are repeated whenever the director
can't think of anything else.
The story concerns a dentist named Dr. Frank Sangster (Steve Martin), who is
engaged to his big-haired hygienist, Jean Noble (Laura Dern). An anal
retentive type whose heavy make-up gives her a harsh look, Jean is never up
for Frank's fetish, which is to "do it" in the dental chair.
One day, into Frank's office comes a junkie named Susan Ivy who'd be happy
to do it wherever he wants if she can just score some drugs off of him.
Trading in her ape suit for a sexy, little girl Goth look, Helena Bonham
Carter plays Susan. Although she starts off with some effective eroticism,
she quickly lets her character dissolve into nothingness.
Frank and Susan have something in common. They both have weird and wacky
brothers. His is played by Elias Koteas and hers by Scott Caan. The plot
involves stolen drugs and murders. None of it rings true, and there are
ample opportunities for Frank, who gets trapped in the center of the crime
whirlwind, to clear everything up with a simple phone call.
Easily the most unusual character is played by Kevin Bacon as Lance Phelps.
Lance is a famous actor whom the cops have given free reign to investigate
crimes so that he can discover material for his new movie. Good news, we
find out towards the end that Lance's picture has been green lighted by the
studio. He gives some good advice to Frank about his predicament. "Nobody
would believe this if this was a movie," Lance tells Frank. No kidding.
NOVOCAINE runs 1:35. It is rated R for "violence, sexuality, language and
drug content" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes