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Michael Caton-Jones
Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, David Ogden Stiers, Bernard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda
Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, Daniel Pyne
A young doctor causes a traffic accident in a small town and is sentenced to work for some days at the town hospital.
Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 7/19/2016

• Trailer


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Doc Hollywood (Widescreen) (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 2, 2016)

A moderate hit for Michael J. Fox post-Back to the Future, 1991’s Doc Hollywood introduces us to Ben Stone (Fox). A young doctor with dreams of medical glory and fortune, he plans to go to Beverly Hills and become a well-paid plastic surgeon.

Fate places an obstacle in his way, though, when Ben gets lost on the road and winds up in small-town Grady, South Carolina. Ben accidentally destroys the judge’s fence, so he receives a sentence to do community service in the local hospital.

Initially Ben resists the charms of small-town living, but he slowly starts to warm up to Grady and its inhabitants – especially when he finds himself smitten by Lou (Julie Warner), the town’s ambulance driver. We follow Ben’s relationships and how these may influence his future plans.

Doc Hollywood provides the definition of a gently/mildly amusing film that entertains but never stands out in any way whatsoever. It's never less than competent and professional, but it's never more than that, either.

That said, Doc Hollywood works well enough, especially given that embraces so many cliches. Foremost, this offers one of the eight bazillion "fish out of water" movies that exist as such a cinematic staple.

Comedic filmmakers adore the notion of putting a person in an unfamiliar situation and watching the laughs accumulate as that person struggles to cope with this scenario. It’s a common motif, and not one that this effort changes in any notable way.

Doc Hollywood also includes virtually every non-offensive cliché about Southerners that exists. Most of the townspeople of little Grady come from the Andy Griffith Show school of amiable hicks who love their slow-paced countrified lifestyles.

This film clearly boasts no political agenda of any sort. Grady's an integrated little burg, but no allusions to any kind of racial prejudices occur. There's nary a redneck in sight; these folks may be hicks, but they're happy, caring hicks who don't possess any bigoted bones in their downhome bodies.

I might get myself a little worked up about how absurdly idealized this film's notion of the South and of small-town living seems, but I just can't do it in this case. It's Doc Hollywood, for God's sake. This is a movie meant to calm and reassure, not to provoke, and after watching it, I'm just too damned sedate and drowsy to work myself into any sort of lather.

Maybe "drowsy" isn't a fair term, for the movie isn't dull. It's slow but it's sweet, and even a hard-edged cynic like myself falls for some of its romantic persuasions.

Doc Hollywood possesses a pretty decent cast, headlined by steady Michael J. Fox. Woody Harrelson's amusing as a smarmier Southern version of his Cheers persona, and Bridget Fonda's perfectly adequate as well.

Julie Warner satisfies but never scintillates as Fox's bemusedly suspicious love interest. Like the film in which they serve, the cast performs ably but without any real verve, and that's just fine.

Doc Hollywood offers some innocent, non-offensive chuckles in a perfectly perfunctory manner. It's a likable but eminently forgettable little piece that's probably best suited for viewing by you and a significant other when you just want to relax in front of the TV and keep your blood pressure steady.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Doc Hollywood appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 monitors. The movie offered a relentlessly mediocre presentation.

Sharpness was erratic. Close-ups demonstrated reasonable clarity, but wider shots tended to seem soft and lackluster. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent.

Colors looked passable and not much better. With a natural palette, the movie could’ve presented vivid hues, but the tones seemed somewhat flat. Blacks were similarly average, and shadows seemed a bit dense.

Print flaws popped up occasionally. Throughout the movie, I noticed sporadica specks, and gate weave became more obvious than usual. All of this added up to a transfer that appeared mediocre, even for SD-DVD.

As for the film’s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, it worked fine for its vintage. Given the movie’s ambitions, the mix didn’t shoot for much, but it added a little zest to the proceedings. Music showed good stereo presence, and the various channels contributed reasonable engagement to the side and rear. Nothing excelled, but the soundscape gave us a bit of breadth.

Audio quality also seemed fine. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, while music showed acceptable pep and clarity. Effects brought us accurate enough material. This was never a memorable track, but it worked for the story.

How did the 2016 DVD compare to the original release from 1998? Audio seemed similar, if not identical. The biggest change came from the visuals, mainly because the 1999 DVD went with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio while the 2014 release delivered the film’s theatrical 1.85:1 framing.

That part made me happy, and the transfer also showed clear improvements. The 1998 DVD was a total disaster – one of the ugliest images I’ve seen – so despite this versions mediocrity, it still marked a considerable step up over the dreadful 1998 release. I just wish Warner had gone all the way and given us a Blu-ray of the film.

Whereas the 1998 DVD included no extras, the 2016 version provides a trailer. It’s not much, but it beats nothing.

Amiable and occasionally charming, Doc Hollywood never pushes any boundaries. Predictable as it may be, though movie offers a moderately entertaining comedic fable. The DVD provides passable visuals as well as mostly fine audio and no real supplements. While the movie amuses, the DVD seems mediocre.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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