Doc Hollywood and the THE RIGHT HAT Moment
The One-Line Summary: On his way from the low-paying bustle of a Washington D.C. emergency room to a high-paid job as a plastic surgeon in Hollywood, Dr. Benjamin Stone (Michael J. Fox) crashes his 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster in the tiny town of Grady, South Carolina, Home of the Grady Squash Festival, and finds he’s stuck there while waiting for parts, eventually falling in love with the culture and the ambulance driver, Vialula (Julie Warner), better known as “Lou.”
The Two-Line Blurb: Loosely based on the Neil B. Shulman book, What? Dead…Again?, Doc Hollywood is a fairly simple romantic comedy that relies heavily on the charms of Michael J. Fox to carry it through to its inevitable and predictable finale that is telegraphed from the moment Stone crashes into town. Still, there is some fun to be had with the city boy fumbling about in the rural countryside, winning everyone over as they try to do the same and keep him as their new physician.
The Three-Line Set-up: Stone is forced to stay longer than expected, doing community service at the local clinic after damaging the Judge’s fence in the crash. As some time passes, he gets to know the townsfolk, especially Lou, who made a particularly memorable introduction by emerging nude from the lake at the house he is put up in. The two begin a kind of fragile relationship as she is sure he will leave, but more of concern at least for Stone, is Hank Gordon (Woody Harrelson) the local insurance man who has a thing for Lou and isn’t happy a city slicker is moving in on this prize.
The Four-Line Moment: After a romantic and passionate evening with Lou on a rowboat under a canopy of fireworks, Stone returns home to find the typically aggressive Hank sitting in the dark in front of the fireplace. Stone naturally expects a fight, especially when Hank says it makes him sick to think of Stone and Lou together in that boat. Stone grabs a broom handle and wields it like a weapon, smashing a lamp and taunting Hank to take a shot, which Hank merely eyes with an odd look, wondering what the city doc is doing. The two begin to talk, and Stone expresses doubts about his life and plans, which Hank compares to a hat and Stone uses as a metaphor to explain how it should be man’s right to choose his own destiny.
The Five-Word Review: Takes no risks but delivers.