The Secret Lives of Dentists

The Secret Lives of Dentists

The Secret Lives of Dentists
2002Drama ∙ 1h 44min

Well, the title is intriguing, right? What’s not intriguing is Campbell Scott’s mustache. That thing is just plain creepy. The funny thing is, I can’t ever see that guy as anyone else but Steve from Singles. Yes, sad but true.

As you can probably tell from the title, this is an odd little movie. And because it’s on the Sundance Channel, you know that nothing much will happen in its 105 minutes. There will be some sort of meandering plotline that will degenerate into melodrama and eventual resolution, gunplay or general apathy. Despite only seeing this a couple of days ago, a lot of the details escape me. It’s that kind of movie; light as air.

The plot entails a married couple–both dentists–who share a practice, a family and a home, but apparently not the same sense of what makes life interesting and exciting. The husband, Campbell Scott, seems to be the husband that every woman dreams about. He’s a professional, who is loyal, steady, helpful, takes care of the kids and provides for everyone. Sure, maybe he’s not the most sunny, upbeat guy, but you can’t have everything. The wife, Hope Davis, is more of a dreamer, even singing in an operatic chorus on the side. He’s the rock. He’s the meat and potatoes. She’s the storyteller, the one always looking for more. So, we have the set up. The good guy. The good woman. And we all know that good guys finish last.

Being a nice, solid, straight-shooter in a film is like the kiss of death. Think about all those characters that Bill Pullman used to play before he was the President in Independence Day. So, of course, the wife is having an affair with someone in her opera group. The husband accidentally witnesses them in a moment of intimacy–although a somewhat innocent moment of intimacy. Rather than confronting his wife, Campbell swallows it and tries to live for his family as his relationship with his wife slowly dissolves. The elephant is in the room as she continues to “work late” and whatnot, but Campbell continues on as if everything is fine.

Then the movie seems to completely stall for about forty-five minutes as the stomach flu ravages the family and we watch each and every member barf for three quarters of an hour. That about clinched the awfulness for me. Just when you thought the sickness was over, another kid would puke on the carpet. And all the while, nothing much happens. Really bad. And then everyone gets well due to Campbell putting in long hours nursing them back to health, and the wife gets even more turned off by the husband for some reason (either his disgust with his wifeishness or her guilt over her own lack of it) and becomes more brazen with her affair.

Interspersed between all the upchucking and melodrama were some internal dream sequences envisioned by the husband that felt completely out of place in the film. The wackiness finally ends with one of those kind of non-resolved resolutions that indie films are so good at–the kind that make you feel like you really just wasted a couple hours of your time on nothing.