Michael J Fox stars in the 1991 romantic comedy Doc Hollywood. The film was recently released by Warner Archive on Blu-ray. I frankly did not remember much of this movie although I am sure I watched it when it came to VHS back in the day. Michael J Fox was mostly known around my house as the smart kid from Family Ties and Back to the Future.
I can’t say that Fox was trying to distance himself from “family friendly” films as this is still PG-13, but it seems like he wanted to get into more grown up roles at this point in his career. The film reminds me more of his roles in movies such as The Secret of My Succe$s, Bright Lights, Big City and the Hard Way. In Doc Hollywood, Fox is joined by Julie Warner, Bridget Fonda, and Woody Harrelson with a whole host of recognizable side characters in the town.
Doc Hollywood centers around the character Ben Stone portrayed by Michael J Fox. He is a plastic surgeon that is heading for California, looking forward to a lucrative business from all the Hollywood stars in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, Ben Stone has a car accident during the road trip and he is stuck in a small community, forced to work off payment for the damages he caused.
The film is directed by Michael Caton-Jones who is known for some diverse works. I most enjoy Rob Roy from him, but he also did This Boy’s Life, the Jackal, Memphis Belle and City by the Sea. His films are typically entertaining with solid casts and Doc Hollywood is no different. It’s a fairly light comedy with romance and feel good elements. The film is charming and I can see many viewers pulling for the relationships to grow.
Michael J Fox isn’t the only character with charisma as the co-lead Julie Warner is well cast in the film. I really don’t understand how she did not become a more popular actress in the 90’s since she was also great in Tommy Boy. The two leads play well off each other and really give the film’s relationship weight as Fox has to weigh his options for leaving the small town for his big city plans.
The small town and eccentric characters grow on the audience and the script has many pleasing moments. The film is not quite as funny or memorable as some of the wonderful 80’s comedies but it doesn’t deserve to be forgotten either. It’s probably one of the more under appreciated early 90’s comedies and it’s great to finally have it available on Blu-ray through Warner Archive.
In my re-watch I noticed the film was shot extremely well for a comedy. Doing a bit of research I found out that the cinematographer Michael Chapman also worked on some small films in the past like The Godfather and Jaws (as a camera operator) and full fledged Cinematographer for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Waltz among many others. Now obviously a comedy doesn’t use the same look or shots as gritty crime dramas or documentaries do, but the professionalism is still easily apparent.
The film was shot in Florida, which just makes me nostalgic, and looks very nice. Considering the old DVD version was Full Screen or 4:3 aspect ratio from the VHS transfer this new release from a 2K scan is just what the doctor ordered. It looks and sounds nice, exactly how you would expect it to be, in all it’s widescreen HD glory.
Doc Hollywood Final Thoughts:
If you are looking for an easy going, playful romantic comedy I can assure you that Doc Hollywood is a great one to spend the afternoon with. It works especially well if you are a fan of Michael J Fox. If you already own the film on DVD it’s certainly well worth the picture upgrade. Kudos to Warner Bros for releasing the film in the quality it deserves.
Doc Hollywood on Blu-ray is available now at Amazon and other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.