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Film / Molly (1999)

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Molly is a 1999 dramedy film written by Dick Christie and directed by John Duigan.
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Buck McKay (Aaron Eckhart) is an ad executive who suddenly finds himself the caretaker of his autistic and intellectually impaired sister, Molly (Elisabeth Shue), after her institution shuts down due to lack of funding. Molly greatly disrupts Buck's life, and when her neurologist, Dr. Susan Brookes (Jill Hennessy), tells him of an experimental surgery that involves implanting genetically modified cells in her brain, he decides to sign her up. Molly makes dramatic gains in intelligence and social skills, enjoying social events such as a baseball game and even pursuing a romance with her friend Sam (Thomas Jane). But it turns out the surgery wasn't as successful as they thought...


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Molly contains examples of:

  • Broken Record: Molly has a tendency to repeat any swear words people say in front of her.
  • The Caretaker: Buck becomes one to Molly, to his annoyance.
  • Commonality Connection: Sam has an unspecified learning disability, so he and Molly are "kind of on the same wavelength," allowing her to form a genuine connection with her even before the surgery.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Molly says she talks to her parents in her dreams.
  • Elevator Buttons Mash: Molly presses every button on the elevator she and Buck take to his meeting room, to the annoyance of the eight or so other people on the elevator.
  • First Kiss: Molly has hers with Sam, and it's implied that it's his first kiss as well. It doesn't go very well, with Molly basically licking Sam's face until Sam pushes her away because he isn't ready. They agree to try again later, when they have a better handle on things.
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  • Flash Back Back Back: As she's wheeled into the OR for brain surgery, Buck's line "But it would give you a chance to... you know, have a better life" echoes in Molly's head.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Molly's immune system attacks the transplants, causing her to regress to her former state.
  • Grave Clouds: When Buck takes Molly to see their parents' grave, the sky is covered in heavy clouds.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Buck has to take Molly to a meeting because no one's available to babysit her. While the receptionist isn't looking, she takes off her clothes because "Molly hot," then walks into his meeting completely naked.
    Japanese businessman: Is this a great country, or what?
  • Not What It Looks Like: Buck has to remove Molly's pants after she wets herself. His girlfriend walks in on him as he's holding her down on the bed while she shrieks and giggles. She believes him after he shows her the letter telling him Molly is in his custody, but she still dumps him because she wants a more reliable partner to have kids with.
  • Photographic Memory: Molly perfectly remembers everything she reads, and with her newfound intelligence she can actually understand it all.
  • Potty Failure: Molly pees herself during her first evening at Buck's apartment. Buck is assured that this is just a reaction to the change in routine and won't happen regularly.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Molly's favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, which she watches almost every day. At one point she makes her babysitter watch the flying monkey scene six times in a row.
  • Sensory Overload: Molly explains in a lecture that when she was autistic, the world was a confusing jumble, and she had to hunch in on small, safe things like The Wizard of Oz or a piece of string. When she starts being distracted by other people flipping pages in the library, it's a sign her brain is rejecting the implant.
  • Soap Within a Show: Buck's friend Mark stars in one. The first time we see him, his character is learning that the woman he's having an affair with is actually his wife's half-sister's illegitimate daughter. Molly is shown watching the show, although she's pretty embarrassed about it.
  • Super Senses: After the brain implant, Molly retains her acute hearing but is better able to process the information, allowing her to eavesdrop on an argument between an umpire and a baseball player.
  • Technobabble: Beverly and Susan talk about Molly's brain in this kind of language, which Buck jokingly refers to as "girl talk."
  • Third-Person Person: Molly talks like this before the treatment, with lines like "Molly wet" and "Molly like peas!"
  • Throwing Off the Disability: What the brain implant does for Molly.
  • Tied-Together-Shoelace Trip: Buck spends hours trying and failing to teach Molly to try her shoes before he gives up for the day and falls asleep in a chair. Molly finally gets the hang of it while he's asleep and shows off her new ability by tying Buck's shoelaces together.

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