"Doc Hollywood" is a surprisingly good love story as well as a comedy. The lovers are smart enough to know all the reasons they shouldn't get together, but too much in love to care. Fox stars as a recent med-school graduate on his way from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, looking forward to a high-paying job as a plastic surgeon. "After all," a colleague says, "the surgery is neat, the pay is good, and no one dies." Fox feels a little guilt about going into the field, but even more ambition, and is looking forward to that paycheck.
However, on his coast-to-coast drive, he gets sidetracked in a South Carolina hamlet, Grady, "Squash Capitol of the South", where his car plows through a local judge's fence. Sentenced to work-release at the hospital, he finds the locals organizing to persuade "Doc Hollywood" to settle in their town. He's absolutely opposed until he meets Lou (Julie Warner), who drives an ambulance, is studying for the bar, and is simply wonderful.
"Doc Hollywood" is sweet instead of clever. Director Caton-Jones found the right character actors to create local color, such as Stiers as the local mayor and head of the recruitment effort; Hughes is the aging local doctor; Harrelson sells insurance; Fonda is the local sexpot; and George Hamilton is a perfect plastic surgeon.
The town (actually Micanopy, Florida) itself has a lot of character, with a statue of its local hero holding a squash. The annual parade and anniversary celebration feature fireworks and includes a plethora of of marching squashes; the carnival is the backdrop for a small, tender, perfect love scene while Fox and Warner dance to Patsy Cline's "Crazy." The chemistry between Fox and Warner is tangible; the screenplay gives them reasonable conversations, from which romance at last blooms.
Love stories need the ability to idealize the loved one, and to show narcissistic bliss for the one loved by such a paragon. Fox and Warner create that feeling, making "Doc Hollywood" a sweetheart of a movie.
Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, and Daniel Pyne, based on the book What? . . . D
Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, Barnard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, David Ogden Stiers, George
Squash Capitol of the South; plastic surgerons
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