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Film / Doc Hollywood

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Doc Hollywood is a 1991 American Romantic Comedy film directed by Michael Caton-Jones and based on Neil B. Shulman's novel What? Dead... Again?. The film stars starring Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, and Woody Harrelson, with Barnard Hughes, David Ogden Stiers, Frances Sternhagen, Bridget Fonda, and Roberts Blossom in supporting roles.

Dr. Benjamin Stone (Fox) is a promising-but-cocky young surgeon, who has just completed his medical residency in Washington, D.C. and hopes to land a lucrative position working with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. While driving out west for the job interview, Ben swerves off of the highway and crashes into the fence of a local resident in the rural hamlet of Grady, South Carolina. The local resident happens to be a judge, who sentences Ben to 32 hours of community service at a nearby hospital rather than allowing him to pay for the damage with cash and go on his merry way. Though initially upset, Ben soon discovers that the whole chain of events leads to a humbling – and unexpectedly rewarding – experience.

This film features examples of:

  • Adaptational Location Change: What? Dead... Again? is set in Grady, Alabama, but the film is set in Grady, South Carolina.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • When Dr. Hogue has a heart attack and flatlines, Ben revives him by using a defibrillator to administer an electric shock. In real life defibrillators are used to treat irregular heartbeats; they do nothing for a stopped heart.
    • As Ben is being shown around the plastic surgery clinic, he and another doctor go straight from one surgery to the next. Although they do wash their hands and change their gloves, they keep wearing the same scrubs throughout.
  • Casting Gag:
    • David Ogden Stiers, best known for playing an arrogant surgeon on M*A*S*H, as a sweet, caring small-town mayor... opposite an arrogant surgeon (Ben).
    • When Harrelson and Fonda's characters are sitting at a restaurant in Los Angeles, she asks him "Is that a star?" to which he replies "No, that's Ted Danson." This movie was during the prime of Cheers which both men starred in.
  • The City vs. the Country: A hotshot plastic surgeon on his way to a new job in Hollywood crashes his car and has to do community service as a doctor in South Carolina.
  • Cool Car: Ben's red 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Ben momentarily agonizes over having to rip up some Armani shirts in order to treat a woman who's gone into sudden labor.
  • Funny Background Event: The art work in the plastic surgery office appears to be living people moving around.
  • Hollywood Law: Ben is taken to court for accidentally crashing into a fence on the property of a local judge, who tries the case personally. A judge cannot try a case in which he is the plaintiff or defendant, as that is an obvious conflict of interest.
  • Informed Flaw: From the start we’re told that Ben is an arrogant, self-centered jerk. But even in his introductory scene, at the inner-city hospital where all kinds of crazy things are going on, he’s calm and professional. After he gets (unfairly) sentenced to being the town doctor for a few days he goes above and beyond all of his duties, performing house calls and reading letters for an illiterate family. He even mentions that one of his interests in the posh clinic (besides the money) is that they also perform reconstructive surgery for accident victims.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Dr. Hogue is rather crotchety, but genuinely cares about the town and its people and ultimately makes sure Ben gets his dream job.
    • Ben himself a bit conceited, but always does the right thing when it comes down to it.
  • Mock Hollywood Sign: DOC has been placed next to HOLLYWOOD on the poster.
  • Naked First Impression: Lou is first seen by Ben when she emerges from a lake where she's been Skinny Dipping and walks up to him, unperturbed by her nudity. When Ben says it's all right since he's a doctor, she retorts "Then it's nothing you haven't seen before."
  • Nature Tinkling: Lou squats and pees in the forest, as according to her, the scent of human urine scares off the deers to keep the hunters away from them. She does this in different areas of the forest and even convinces Ben to do the same.
  • No Antagonist: The movie doesn’t have a villain. The judge certainly abuses his authority in a case of Hollywood Law, but he just recognizes a golden opportunity for the town to get a badly-needed new doctor and is essentially just forcing Ben to do a "test drive" so to speak. Even the seemingly arrogant plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills discusses that he uses some of the profits from the clinic to perform pro bono reconstructive surgery on accident victims.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: or closest thing we come to in this movie is Ben's nurse at the clinic. She's determined to get every minute of his community service and clocks him in and out every time he steps outside the door even for a moment.
  • Pro Bono Barter: Ben gets paid for a bit of doctoring... with a hog. He is seen walking around with it on a rope several times after that.
  • Seen It All: It seems like the medical world has passed Doc Hogue by. But in reality he just knows all the quirks of his small town and poor rural patients.
  • There Is No Higher Court: Ben is taken to court for accidentally crashing into a fence on the property of a local judge, and the judge himself sentences him to community service. In real life most judges would recuse themselves from their own cases.