I was reluctant to watch this film due to its low score on imdb.com (currently 4.6) and the copious negative reviews. But I decided to watch it albeit with low expectations and prepared to bail out after fifteen minutes. It is a Robert Altman film after all. Could it be any worse than Popeye, a film I thought was just OK? Given the presence of Richard Gere in the lead role seemed to indicate that I was in for something lightweight and vapid. The opening scenes in which we are introduced to a bevy of annoying, vacuous, clothes obsessed, wealthy women all talking at once didn’t seem promising. It was then I realized that they were supposed to annoying and that the film is meant to be satire. Many have criticized the film and Altman, who surrounded himself with women in his professional life and who has featured women in leading roles perhaps more than any other male director, as being misogynistic, overlooking the fact that the screenplay was written by a woman, Anne Rapp, who also wrote the screenplay for Altman’s previous film, Cookie’s Fortune. One may criticize Altman for his rendering of the screenplay but is it fair to criticize him for the content and viewpoint contained within the screenplay? In contrast to all the status seeking trophy wives in the film there is Bree (Helen Hunt), a golf pro whom Dr. T (Gere), a wealthy gynecologist, meets at his golf club. Bree is obviously the film’s ideal woman and perhaps she’s a fictional version of the screenwriter. She’s independent, forthright, uninterested in climbing social ladders, and rejects conventional gender roles. Dr. T’s wife (Farrah Fawcett) has been institutionalized due to a rare disorder that causes affluent women who are overly pampered to regress into a childlike state. When Bree rejects Dr. T’s offer to make her his next trophy wife he is literally thrown into a whirlwind. Perhaps the reason so many viewers loathe this film, though they may not be conscious of it, is that it exposes some ugly truths about American society. Most members of the general moviegoing public want to see the hero slay the dragon, win the princess, and live happily ever after. They want a couple hours of escape from their stressful, monotonous lives. Real art, however, is a mirror and one shouldn’t blame the mirror if one doesn’t like what is being reflected. It seems the majority have decided to avoid mirrors.
Dr. T and the Women at imdb.com
As of August, 2016 Dr. T and the Women is available to rent from Netflix.com.