Time: 112 mins.
Genre: Black Comedy
Neil LaBute's films aren't usually everyone's cup of tea. They are very black comedies that appeal to people who enjoy laughing at other people's pain and misfortunes. It seems, however, with NURSE BETTY he's trying to broaden his appeal a bit, adding just a touch of sweetness by centering the story around a character that's not completely loathsome. Which is not to say that this is a mainstream comedy. Far from it. It's just got a smidge more Hollywood thrown in. It's actually a very well-made film with some great performances and incredibly funny moments. The leads are all on their game, giving each of their characters a very distinct vibe. The story also seemed to be fairly accessible, so I just can't understand why it wasn't more popular in the theater. Maybe because Betty is obsessed with a soap star people thought it was going to be like SOAPDISH. Well, let me assure you there's far too much blood and cursing for this to be close to a farce.
The film opens on Betty's (Zellweger) birthday. She works as a waitress at the local diner where she tries to catch her favorite soap, A Reason to Love. Her husband Del (Eckhart), the local used car salesman, no longer appreciates her, nor does he remember her birthday. She borrows a car from the lot, one he specifically told her not to, in order to go celebrate with her best friend, but things don't work out so she returns home to watch the tape of the show's latest episode. Her viewing is interrupted by Del and his business associates, Charlie (Freeman) and Wesley (Rock). She tries to ignore them, but their conversation gets heated and drowns out the dialogue of the show. When she peeks around the door to see what's happening, she gets a picture of pure violence she won't soon forget. Wesley and Charlie are on a mission to retrieve something Del stole and they aren't leaving until they get it. Of course, with their main source now dead, Charlie and Wesley have a hard time confirming the accuracy of Del's information.
Del's murder sends shockwaves through the town. Betty's nonchalance about the whole situation makes her a suspect, mainly because the town sheriff (Vance) has nothing else to go on. Her sudden disappearance doesn't help matters. Betty has never encountered violence like that in her life and the shock pushes her over the edge, sending her into a fantasy world with her favorite soap actor Dr. David Revell (Kinnear) at the center of it. Using the car she originally borrowed from the lot, she drives out to Los Angeles to reunite with her "ex-fiance." In her search for David, she manages to acquire a job and a roommate in a matter of days. Rosa (Texada), a Latina who's given up on men, decides to take up Betty's quest to find David, but is less than pleased when she discovers Betty is just an obsessed fan. Angry to be so deceived, Rosa tries to burst Betty's bubble by arranging a chance meeting with George McCord. Of course, he's so impressed with her "method acting" that Betty ends up spending the evening with him and finds herself completely in love. As for George, he's never met anyone like her.