Review by Gordon Justesen
Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee, Martin Short, Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: April 18, 2000
can easily be summed up as a breath of fresh air. Itís one of the more
pleasant, feel-good films Iíve seen in a while and it has a lot of wit as
well. I had such a wonderful time watching every single character come to life.
Itís the latest film to come from master writer/director Lawrence Kasdan, who
knows how to write and create stories concerning contemporary adult life. In the
80s, he did it with The Big Chill, and
then in the 90s with the strong and moving Grand
Canyon. The original release of Mumford
was close to the end of the century, and I find it to be Kasdanís best film to
date, excluding Body Heat and Silverado,
which I have yet to see.
The movie takes
place in the quiet little town of Mumford, where the talk of the town is the
stellar psychologist ironically named Dr. Mumford, played in a star-making
manner by Loren Dean. Heís one Doc who has a unique talent of listening to
peopleís problems, even better than the rival psychologists. Mumford has an
unusual list of patients. Among the eccentric patients is young self-made
millionaire Skip Skipperton (Jason Lee), who is depressed from a certain feeling
of loneliness. There is the beautiful Sofie Crisp (Hope Davis), whoís afraid
to lie down for fear that she may not rise up. Thereís also the local druggist
(Pruitt Taylor Vince), who has a strangest fetish for pulp magazines. And
thereís even a patient that Mumford fires (Martin Short), who strives to get
even. There is an original quality to each of these characters that Kasdan
brings to life. The words that he puts into the mouths of these characters is of
true original quality, like you might hear in a book by Elmore Leonard, or even
a film from Quentin Tarantino, but Kasdan completely holds his own ground.
aspect of the film is the strength of the chemistry between the actors. Loren
Dean and Jason Lee especially deliver a unique doctor and patient relationship
that, as far as I can recall, Iíve never seen in a film. Mumford and Skip
become such close friends, that the Doc even starts revealing some of his
patientsí personal problems to him. Mumfordís relationship to Sofie is a
sweet one as well. They slowly become attracted to one another, though Sofieís
very strict mother disapproves of the doctor, to his amazement as well as ours,
sort of sees right through him.
does take more surprising turns than you might expect from it. The biggest
surprise comes from the main character, Dr. Mumford. He ends up revealing the
details of his background to Skip, which I will completely leave to you, dear
viewer, to discover for yourself. Itís a turn that I honestly didnít expect
to come across.(Actually, I kind of did, since the trailer and ads revealed
around 90% of the surprises, which explains why the movie didnít get the
audience it deserved.) Nonetheless, discovering the backgrounds of the
characters was truly a pleasure.
The look of Mumford
is special and very appealing, to me at least. Like the settings of such recent
wondrous movies like The Truman Show
and Pleasantville. Having said that,
it would be very appropriate for me to credit Ericson Coreís grand
cinematography. It really captures the beauty and landscape of the town, from
the mid-town area, to the countryside where Jason Leeís rich kid character
resides, along with the multi-million dollar computer business that he runs.
Like the previous movies mentioned, itís one of those rare films where
you could say the setting is more or less one of the stars, which is a big
there may not sound as if there is much to Mumford, viewers who enjoy fresh characterizations, and I know there
are plenty of you out there, you should take advantage. The film is
warm-hearted, hysterically funny, and an all round memorable movie.
Disney has been on
a roll ever since they considered the anamorphic transfers of their films. Along
with The Insider, the video transfer on Mumford is of stellar
quality. With this transfer, the town of Mumford never looked so
pleasant. Presented in its 2.35:1 widescreen format, the picture is bright and
clear all throughout the entire presentation, and I donít remember detecting
any grain whatsoever, which is a relief.
Actually, there wasnít any real flaw with the audio, but
then again, you canít really do much with a subtle, laid-back, special-effects
free kind of movie. At any rate, I have no damaging complaints, as the 5.1 Dolby
Digital transfer is still of high quality, and should stand out on any system.
Thereís only a trailer, as well as a short behind the scenes
Mumford is a pleasant movie experience, and thereís hardly a film like that in this day and age. Itís a film thatís sort of a homage to the days of Frank Capra, who I think would be proud of the film. One of last yearís best films for sure, and it is highly recommended.