MUMFORD (1999) 

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Loren Dean
Hope Davis
Jason Lee
Alfre Woodard
Mary McDonnell
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Zooey Deschanel
Martin Short
David Paymer
Jane Adams

Lawrence Kasdan



Time: 118 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Romance

SYNOPSIS: In the small town of Mumford, a psychologist of the same name moves in and quickly becomes very popular, despite a questionable past.

BOTTOM LINE: Lawrence Kasdan is certainly one of cinema's more intelligent and thoughtful writers and directors, creating films that try to get under the skin of the human experience. The trailers for MUMFORD, his latest opus into the hearts and minds of regular people, seemed quaint, amusing and interesting, but not enough to make me go to the theater. However, when I had the chance to catch it recently on cable I figured what the hell. With a cast this good, it had to be at least remotely entertaining.

While I couldn't stop watching this movie, I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's about an unusual young man (Dean) who moves to a small town and quickly becomes the leading psychiatrist, doling out somewhat strange, but successful advice to his new patients. I guess everyone was too preoccupied with their own troubles to question his credentials. Of course, he falls under the spell of one of them (a troubled young woman played by Hope Davis), which brings forth the film's biggest surprise and a major dilemma for our hero.

This quiet tale has moments of great humor and true insight, but it never quite finds the right balance between the humor and the drama. The cast is wonderful, especially Dean and Davis as the doctor and his lady love who aren't your usual romantic leads, but keep you riveted to the screen nonetheless. Everyone in the cast has a purpose giving the film unique characters and a lot of heart. In the end, though, it just seemed a bit too easy with everyone's future conveniently falling into place, neuroses solved to live happily ever after. If you like smart, quirky, little comedies, check out MUMFORD. You could do a lot worse.

"In a free society you are what you say you are. If you screwed up one life, sometimes you can get another shot."

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