More specifically, a Dallas gynecologist (Richard Gere, with a tidier haircut and a sincerer persona) and his psychotic wife, his materialistic sister-in-law, his protective and adoring receptionist, his numerous demanding patients, a country-club golf pro who becomes his new lover, and his two grown daughters, one of whom is soon to be married and the same one of whom is still in love with her maid of honor. Among others. In sum, another Robert Altman ensemble piece, in which the broad and overripe comedy is characteristically checked and balanced by the detached and jaded attitude. (Shelley Long, in the part of the receptionist, manages to fight through the heavy-liddedness to earn an audible chuckle or two.) Altman, much as he did for Houston way back in Brewster McCloud, gives the entire Dallas area a pretty thorough, if pretty pedestrian, going-over: golf, hunting, cheerleaders, affluent housewives, the infamous Grassy Knoll ("That's where JFK's head exploded"), Ob-Gyn examination rooms named after Phyllis George, Ann Richards, Belle Starr. And in the climactic scene of actual childbirth (oh, goody), under the shield of the Sanctity of Life, he takes his festering genital fixation to a new, magnifying-glass stage of intimacy. That indelible image aside, the movie is at best a silly, flighty, inoffensive trifle; at worst a sporadic snooze. With Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Tara Reid, Liv Tyler, Janine Turner. (2000) — Duncan Shepherd
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