Movie Reviews
12:05 pm
Fri December 7, 2001

Novocaine

Helena Bonham Carter on the loose to bilk dentists of their drugs is the best fear generator of the film.

Maybe a touch of laughing gas would have helped me understand if "Novocaine" is supposed to be a black comedy, film noir, or just a mouthful of decay. The last item is where I lean -? I longed for the "Marathon Man"?s clean horror, not this wimpy plot with turns barely qualifying for twists.

Even the recurring x-rayed mouths chewing food serve little for horror. However, Bonham Carter on the loose to bilk dentists of their drugs is the best fear generator of the film. Though why Martin would be overwhelmed by this one of hundreds of Dr. T-like patients is the bigger mystery for me. Or why his deadpan delivery, in life or voiceover, should get her overheated is another mystery.

The film-noir touch of a man?s life spiraling out of control is a redeeming quality. Martin?s conflicted dentist and Bonham Carter?s trashy, trouble-making femme fatale are a disappointing contrast to Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand in "The Man Who Wasn't There." Where Thornton?s barber is cool in the face of his fates, Martin?s dentist has no cool, only bemusement or confusion at best.

Martin reminds us the worst thing that could happen to a man is to lose his teeth. This movie is not a tooth loser; it?s just a toothache.