Robert Altman's DR. T AND THE WOMEN is an excessively cute type of story in
which much is made of the sales clerk at Tiffany's having the name Tiffany,
and in which one of the characters named Bree (Helen Hunt) keeps pointing
out that her name isn't like the cheese but like "breed" without the "d."
In a sea of women patients as raucously noisy as Grand Central Station at
rush hour, their Ob-Gyn, Dr. T (Richard Gere), reigns supreme. A dozen
noisy "fillies" wait for him while gabbing a mile-a-minute. Most are
ostentatiously wealthy women with long blonde hair. It's the sort of office
in which a patient, after getting the good doctor's wise advice, runs
through it shouting, "I'm going to be the best damn menopause patient you've
ever had!" This is greeted by boisterous applause from the staff and
As God's gift to women, Dr. T proudly spouts his rules, worthy of pillow
embroidery ("Never take a good woman for granted" and "Women by their nature
are saints and must be treated as such."). The doctor drives a big, old,
cream-yellow Cadillac convertible with "DR T" vanity tags. His favorite
past-time is hunting with his buddies.
The state of Texas (the setting of the story), especially it's place names
and famous women, are so prominently featured that one wonders if the state
had to fork over a large product placement fee. The doctor's examination
rooms are all named for well-known Texas women including Ann Richards, Belle
Starr and Phyllis George. The story even flaunts the great apartment rental
prices offered in the Dallas area.
The movie's large and talented cast swarms around Gere likes he's the queen
bee. His performance, wise and soothing, is the best of the bunch. It's
too bad that the flitting and unconvincing script and direction gets in the
way of our enjoying the acting.
Dr. T's wife, Kate (Farrah Fawcett), is losing her mind due to a disease
that afflicts, we are told, only "women who are loved too much." This
causes her to strip completely naked in an exclusive shopping mall and dance
in the indoor fountain. This is first of many hard to buy episodes from
Anne Rapp's script. Notice how people just walk right by with few noticing
a crazy, naked blonde, dancing and singing away. Kate is the type of wife
who notifies her husband that there will be no more sex, ever, since "it's
But don't worry about the good doctor, he'll still get his. Although she
knows he's married, Bree asks him over to her place. After dinner she gives
him a come-hither look and strips naked so that he can get from her what
he's not getting at home. This casual approach to infidelity should give
Other unbelievable parts of the narrative include the patient who insists on
smoking like a chimney during her entire examination. And another who wears
a hat with a large feather during hers.
The story is way too cluttered. One of the doctor's grown daughters, Connie
(Tara Reid, BODY SHOTS), works as a guide at The Conspiracy Museum in
Dallas. This plot device allows Altman to take us to the infamous Texas
School Book Depository. Connie, pointing to the literal "X" in the road in
front of it, enthusiastically tells her tour group, "That's where JFK's head
Kate Hudson (ALMOST FAMOUS) gets a small part as the doctor's other
daughter, who is about to get married. As her Maid of Honor, Liv Tyler is a
woman with a secret in yet another of the many subplots. Laura Dern is a
mother who is a bulimic lush. And Shelley Long is the doctor's unflappable
The script's quirky charm does sometimes manage to shine through the
clutter. But the ending, reminiscent of MAGNOLIA's raining frogs, reminds
us again of everything wrong with the movie. For my money, the only Dr. T
movie worth seeing is the 1953 movie, THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T., based on
a Dr. Seuss story and starring Hans Conried as Dr. T.
DR. T AND THE WOMEN runs a long 2:01. It is rated R for graphic nudity and
some sexuality and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes