Dr. T & The Women (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Dr T (Richard Gere) is a gynecologist of remarkably calm disposition whose office seems to be the central gathering place for all of the women of society, most of whom have too little to occupy their lives, and use the waiting time to renew social acquaintances, plan political action, and show off their new clothes. Some wear their new hats and smoke during gyno exams.

Dr T is trying to adjust to the fact that his beloved and beautiful wife had a rare type of mental breakdown, and is reverting to childhood before his eyes, while his daughter (Kate Hudson) is trying to plan her wedding. As all that unfolds, he plays some golf and hits on the assistant pro (Helen Hunt), and goes hunting with his buds. Nothing goes as planned with either his wife or his mistress, and when the wedding finally arrives, his lesbian daughter outs herself, and spurns her bridegroom to run off with the maid of honor (Liv Tyler with about 30 extra pounds on her frame).

The film is pure Robert Altman, not a straightforward thriller like "Gingerbread Man," but Altman doing it his way with a wandering character study like "Nashville" or "A Wedding" or "Pret a Porter".

But this is no Nashville.



Early in the film, Farrah Fawcett strips and dances around in a mall fountain. because she stays behind the spray, the scene is more suggestive than explicit nudity.

About halfway through the movie, Helen Hunt does two quick nude scenes, the first fully nude as she steps in the shower. Again, mostly titillation. Both scenes are far from the camera, and I couldn't see anything at all when she took off her shirt the second time.

Holly Pellham's breast is seen during an examination.

Janine Turner showed most of her buns after examination

There is also a completely graphic and explicit scene of a baby's birth, shot from the doctor's POV.

If you are familiar with Robert Altman's films, you know that even the best ones are generally meandering. I started to write "unstructured," but decided that simply wasn't fair. His films have a sort of structure, but it is deliberately loose and unorthodox, and is driven by the characters rather than by the plot twists. That sort of filmmaking places a great burden upon the characterization. When the plot is relatively unimportant, as it is in Altman's films, a filmmaker simply has to involve us in the lives he portrays. He needs to present interesting characters in compelling situations. Altman's best flicks do that. M*A*S*H was an absolute phenomenon; "Nashville" was considered by many to be a work of great genius. Other Altman films, like "The Player." "McCabe and Mrs Miller" and "Short Cuts" have been considered great artistic triumphs.

But look what he had to work with in those cases: the military establishment, the country music industry, Hollywood, the myth of the West. Those are epic subjects which can be populated by interesting, myth-shattering characters. In contrast, the subject of  "Dr T and the Women" is Dallas society women and their hollow lives.


Well, ol' Bob really rips the cover off that subject, but when he does, there's nothing much worth watching, nothing we care about, and absolutely nothing that we didn't already know.

Another problem with this film is that it lacks Altman's usual rich choice of protagonists. Nashville had about a trillion major characters and sub-plots presented by an ensemble, but every scene in Dr. T either features Richard Gere or is about his character's life. If you find Gere as colorless and lifeless as I do, you'll be yawning about 15 minutes into the film. If you look up the word "bland" in the dictionary, Gere's picture must be there. If Gere were not a movie star, and you met him at a party, how could you subsequently tell someone in the next room which guy you met? Oh, he's the guy who ... Who what? We guys rarely say "that good -looking guy" when talking about another guy, but that's about the only identifiable characteristic Gere has.

One more problem. The last ten minutes of this film is one of the weirdest sequences ever to appear in a studio picture. Gere gets caught in a tornado (I guess), like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz". (Get the obvious symbolism? His whole life feels like he's spinning in a maelstrom). He's spinning around, passes out, and when he wakes up, wherever he is, he is asked to deliver a baby for some Spanish-speaking people. The baby's birth is then shown in clinical close-up detail, as if an educational film for new or prospective mothers. If you've never actually seen that happen, here's your chance.

It's a "niņo."

The end.

Roll credits.

Despite the uninvolving subject matter, the bland star, and the surreal ending, it is an Altman film after all, so there are some fine elements which Altman's fans will hang on to and treasure.

  • A good moment on the funny side: Kate Hudson is a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, and she didn't make the calendar this year because she "failed the written test", thinking that "Roger Starbucks" was a famous coffee symbol like Juan Valdez, and that "Tom Laundry" was a famous Fort Worth dry cleaner.

  • A good moment on the serious side: Farrah Fawcett delivers a very touching performance as a lost soul with a lost mind. The scene where Gere visits her sanitarium is very affecting. She sees him, breaks into a bright smile, and jumps into his arms enthusiastically. He thinks she is back to normal, until all his hopes are shattered when she introduces him to the other patients as her brother.

Good moments.

DVD info from Amazon

You can buy it new for a buck; used for a penny.

The film's strengths were, however, too few and not strong enough. Let me be direct about the bottom line. I'm a Robert Altman fan who was thrilled to see the great man's career revive in 1992-1993 with "The Player" and "Short Cuts." That notwithstanding, I found this movie to be a waste of time, and as bad an Altman failure as "A Wedding" or "Popeye."

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 57% positive overall, and 64% from the top critics. I believe that a very high percentage of  critics will praise anything when the director is an established icon. Sometimes I think the director should be kept anonymous until after the reviews are written.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.8, which is exceptionally weak for a movie with 64% positive reviews from the top critics. That's kind of an Altman thing. Except for M*A*S*H, Altman's films have always been better received by critics than by general audiences.

  • With their dollars ... $13 million domestic gross on about 1500 screens.

My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. I just don't see any reach beyond loyal Altman fans. I like Altman a lot, and it even tested my patience. Of all the major critics whose essays I read, only James Berardinelli seemed to be have seen the same movie I saw. The others must have been watching a re-run of M*A*S*H.

Return to the Movie House home page