'Doc Hollywood' puts plenty of small-town charm on the big screen

August 02, 1991|By Stephen Wigler

Among the noisome offerings that the film studios typically send our way in August, "Doc Hollywood" should be one of the least offensive. This modest feature could have been a made-for-TV movie: It has a cast that includes several TV stars and there are more than a few jokes aimed at that medium's audience.

Michael J. Fox plays a young surgeon named Ben Stone. On his way to Los Angeles, where he plans to make his fame and fortune as a plastic surgeon to the stars, he ends up stranded in a little South Carolina town named Grady. Over the course of the film, he falls in love with one of the locals (the saucy and beautiful Julie Warner, who -- fortunately for the film -- is even shorter than the star) and with the town. After a brief, unsatisfying stint as a Hollywood doc, he decides to live happily ever after in the sticks.

This is tame stuff -- made all the more ordinary because Fox reprises the same good-hearted if materialistic yup he's been playing since Alex Keaton in "Family Ties" -- and about as unlikely as a transcontinental trip from Washington to L.A. that takes a traveler through South Carolina. But once the movie is under way -- it is nicely paced by director Michael Caton-Jones ("Scandal" and "Memphis Belle") -- "Doc Hollywood" begins to PTC exert some innocuous charms.

The most important of those are the characters of an excellent cast who make Grady ("the Squash Capital of the South") attractive as the little town that time forgot. These include David Ogden Stiers (whose perfect Southern accent as Grady's lovable mayor shows that his equally perfect elocution as a haughty Boston Brahmin on "M*A*S*H" was no accident); Barnard Hughes as the town's dipsomaniacal but good-hearted doctor; Woody Harrelson as a bizarre life-insurance salesman; George Hamilton, who does a wickedly funny (and unexpected) turn near the end of the film as a Hollywood plastic surgeon; and Bridget Fonda, who walks off with the movie as the mayor's hot-to-trot-out-of-Grady daughter. Listening to her purr "you're not as short as they say" is almost worth the price of admission.

'Doc Hollywood'

Starring Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, David Ogden Stiers and Bridget Fonda.

Directed by Michael Caton-Jones.

Released by Warner Bros.

Rated PG-13.

** 1/2

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.