Novocaine ★★ 2001 (R)
Ambitious, occasionally successful blend of black comedy and film noir framed in toothy imagery. Frank (Martin) is a humdrum dentist with a thriving practice and perfect, if nutty, hygienist/fiancee (Dern). The normalcy is crushing and dread is palpable. Enter Susan (Carter), a seductive, if grungy, first-time patient with a need for painkillers. She appeals to Frank's latent desire for danger by allowing a cavity search of another kind right in the dentist's chair. From there, playing the classic noir role of the stooge, Frank makes a lot of really bad decisions. Story is pretty unbelievable, but the screwball quality keeps it afloat to a point. Ultimately the plot stumbles and dueling tones bump into each other. Martin has some funny moments but Carter is still in “Fight Club” mode and falls into caricature. Laughing gas would've been preferable to the numbness of the film's ending, but points given for originality. 95m/C VHS, DVD . US Steve Martin, Helena Bonham-Carter, Laura Dern, Elias Koteas, Scott Caan, Keith David, Lynne Thigpen, Kevin Bacon; D: David Atkins; W: David Atkins; C: Vilko Filac; M: Steve Bartek.
no·vo·caine / ˈnōvəˌkān/ (also trademark No·vo·cain) • n. another term for procaine.