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Not a great film, I suppose, but "Gross Anatomy" has enough that's entertaining, engaging and memorable about it to recommend the film to fans of character drama. "ER" and "Chicago Hope" may well have set the standard for medical dramas, but this look at some first-year med students and their quest to achieve the impossible (become a practicing surgeon or specialist) has long since been forgotten in the trash-bin of seemingly negatable Disney flicks. Released at the turn of the 80's, when Disney was rampantly putting out what seemed like a movie a week, it features a sterling performance by the eternally underrated Matthew Modine as Joe Slovak, an endlessly appealing character despite his tendency to annoy everyone else in the film. Slovak is a wonderful creation on the part of the writers, first seen in a highly memorable pre-credits sequence in which each of the post-grad medical schools asks him questions that eventually reveal the 'real Joe'. Or at least the Joe Slovak he wishes to project. Christine Lahti, who would of course go on to fame and acclaim in "Chicago Hope", practiced her medical chops here as a sickly professor bent on pressuring her students to achieve perfection, even if they themselves aren't often willing to reach for it. The rest of the cast (Daphne Zuniga and the always-great Todd Fields) have done work elsewhere that's gotten more attention, but it's doubtful they've ever been as effective as they are here. By no means is this a classic, but a sharply-observed film that despite a layer of Disney-esque schmaltz manages to touch, entertain and invigorate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gross Anatomy was released one year prior to another med student saga
entitled Vital Signs. While the movies are similar in many respects,
especially in creating a formulaic arrangement of characters, Gross Anatomy
is much more of a comedy/drama while Vital Signs is pretty much a straight
The story of Gross Anatomy concerns five first-year med students who's grueling academic schedule and various experiences with getting their feet wet forces them to consider whether they're really ready for the committment or are they just wasting their time. This is particularly true of main character Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine), as apparent from the introduction of him sitting in various admissions interviews trying to answer questions the way he thinks would please the representatives. Joe's a bright guy, and a pretty gifted med student, if only he'd apply himself. And that's pretty much the whole ponit of the movie. What is Joe Slovak's goal here?
The one to impress that on him the most is a pretty tight-fisted, but well-meaning professor played by Christine Lahti. Her character is not simply there to turn out med students who know the human anatomy, but who also have compassion towards their patients and realize that there is really much more to the whole field than just memorizing terms or grades on exams. Joe Slovak has yet to learn that.
The movie is pretty funny, despite being a somewhat sad story towards the end (and you'll probably guess why early on). But, it is a pretty entertaining film, and often a funny one at that. It's also interesting to take a look at the day in the life of a med student, particularly if those are your perspective plans. I'm not sure that this (and Vital Signs, which deals with 3rd year med students) is an exaggerated perspective of medical school like say, The Paper Chase (which deals with first year law students). Then again, they're two different ball games. 80s fans are sure to enjoy it. Daphne Zugian is always funny to see as the girl who tries too hard to pretend that she doesn't care or isn't effected by certain things (see The Sure Thing), but later, has to break down and admit it. She's pretty funny here, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, to make it quite an engrossing little movie. Aces!
A first-year med student (Matthew Modine) is obsessed with becoming a doctor, but jokes his way through everything else in his life in this under-rated little flick that works due to a clever screenplay and good performances from the major players in the cast. The film goes for funny and outlandish situations, but has undertones of drama early and then the drama takes center stage by the film's final act. Christine Lahti shines as the one professor who locks horns with Modine. Above-average and enjoyable overall. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Having been through the first two years of medical school (including,
of course, Gross Anatomy) it is obvious to me that whomever wrote the
original material for this movie had some understanding of the precise
pressures an fears that medical students suffer. Many people say that
"medical school is difficult" and it is, but that idea gives you very
little understanding of what really goes on that makes it difficult.
Many movies get basic ideas essentially wrong - take "Flatliners" where
the characters do hospital rounds routinely, although they are still
just conducting Gross Anatomy classes (albeit in a dankly lit dungeon
In Gross Anatomy, the basic characters you seen in Med School are there. David Schreiner, the guy who burns out, represents all the people who got in off the wait list and barely eek by, all the time hating the rest of the people who find it easier. Miles Reed is your typical "Gunner" who gets by not only by obsessing over every detail of class, but by incessant campus climbing. Kim McCauley is the lovable girl who seems oblivious and ambulant to her own performance (and will likely become the best doctor of the bunch). Laurie is the girl who "always wanted to be a doctor" and has a single-minded ambition to put nothing between her and her school work, much to the detriment of her social life. Joe Slovak is probably the least realistic character - there aren't too many happy go lucky people for whom medical school is so easy. You see jovial people around who never seem to get behind, but at the same time always participate in extra curriculars, but not with Joe's laid back, devil may care attitude, and certainly not his contempt for patients.
Many of the classroom and test scenes are sort of over-hyped - think about how many times they professors say, "People this IS Gross Anatomy". However, at the same time, there is always an importance placed on the seriousness of the school environment that hints at what the experience is really about.
I enjoy the movie because it does almost seem like an inside job in the medical field poking fun at many of the people and practices we see on the way to medical licenser and is only thinly wrapped with the hint of a storyline.
2 of 5 as a movie, but probably the best around as medical student movies go.
This is a genteel romantic comedy about the first year of medical
school from the perspective of Laurie Rorbach (Daphne Zuniga). There's
no hold barred from day one onward: This is a total commitment.
Enter Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine. He's the wise guy from a lower class background but he's got a system for beating the odds and getting by with a minimum of effort. His natural intelligence pulls him through most test of wills, but that chip on the shoulder attitude leaves him with utter contempt for the concept that something greater than educating a medical mechanic is at work. A wise instructor Dr. Rachel Woodruff (Christine Lahti) is out to teach Slovak a powerful lesson.
The lab partner make up an excellent supporting cast. The washout student who is bright willing though unable, the Joe-College type who has pretensions and ambitions as thinly veiled as Slovak's sarcasm, and the female student whose husband wants to keep her barefoot and pregnant give a good cross-section of young adulthood which is of course still in a "becoming" stage.
I was surprised to see that this delightful film did not get higher ratings.
i liked this movie.it's about first year medical students and what they go through.it focuses specifically on a small group of five in particular.it's a drama more than anything.it the first half of the movie is pretty light in tone,but the second half is much more serious in tone.in fact,there are two heartbreaking scenes in the second half, which got me pretty emotional.but that's just me.this is a very much a character and story driven movie and it succeeds,in my mind,at least mostly.the acting is pretty good.Matthew Modine, Daphne Zuniga and Christine are the main actors.all are likable characters,in their own way. .overall, well written,well acted movie.not great, but pretty good.for me,"Gross Anatomy" is an 7/10
I am the guy(the teacher assistant) pointing at the diagram on the
chalkboard(for about 3 seconds) in the movie.(no kidding)
The movie itself is largely entertaining, though predictable. It is obvious the guy will get the girl in the end, though what he has to go through to get her makes it interesting.
If I were interested in going to medical school, seeing this movie might make me think twice about it.Still, it illustrates the same tired theme of many other movies. This being, "You gotta really want it, more than anything else, if you're gonna get through it successfully."
Daphne Zuniga is enchanting in her role and Matthew Modine is annoying in his. I almost hoped he wouldn't end up with her. It reminded me a bit of his role in "Full Metal Jacket." Maybe they should have called him "Joker" in this movie,too.
Overall,a pleasant, if inconsequential, movie.
"Gross Anatomy" is a romantic comedy and med school student learns
about life and himself character study, nicely rolled into a drama. I
first saw it as a young teen in the early 90s, and it stuck with me as
a dramatic romantic comedy but more so as a med school examination that
really spoke to me.
Almost twenty years later, I am much more film literate, and while I still like it, I can see it's not as good as it could have been, or as I remember it. It's really not much of a character study, as Matthew Modine's Joe is your typical smart slacker who gets by on his looks, charm and natural intelligence - which is almost enough for med school. I wish they showed me more of his struggles in school and less of his romantic efforts to win over Laurie (Daphne Zuniga). The romantic comedy angle is so formulaic and predictable, that the comedy fell flat. On the other hand, the interpretation of med school seemed more realistic and not as enticing as most shows and movies make it out to be.
"Gross Anatomy" is probably more intriguing to a younger audience, with its immature characters and predictable romance. But these characters are appealing, especially Modine as we follow him on his journey through first year med school. I was not as emotionally invested as I first was years ago, but I still enjoyed this as a cute film.
Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine) is the son of an east coast fisherman. Bright as a button, however, Joe wants to become a doctor and he gains acceptance into a medical school. Once there, his easy going style is at odds with those around him. Beautiful Laurie (Daphne Zuniga) is the privileged daughter of a wealthy doctor and wastes no time in telling Joe that her schedule has no room for casual dating. Then, too, Joe's anal roommate, David (Todd Field) is so uptight he has flossing on his daily schedule and his lab partner, Miles, has a silk shirt on every day. In addition to all of this, the school boasts a no-nonsense instructor (Christine Lahti) that uses ridicule as a teaching tool, if she so desires. Will Joe be able to sail the difficult waters of a first year medical student, without compromising his basic style and principles? This is a fine look at the first year in the life of a medical student. The workload is excruciating, to say the least, and even those who are smart and dedicated can fall between the cracks, failing examinations and more. All of the actors playing these roles are terrific, with Modine a delight as the atypical medical student and Zuniga very lovely as the determined but thoughtful doctor to be. Then, too, Lahti is wonderful as the much-despised instructor who uses her sharp tongue to weed out those who don't have what it takes to become competent doctors. You will like the costumes, sets, and look of this film very much, too. If you are contemplating a future as a doctor, you must get this film soon, as it will give you a taste of the intensity your life will take on for the next few years. But, even if you just love films about the medical profession or those that boast a nice little love story, this one is for you.
Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine) gets into Chandler University's College of
Medicine. He's a smart irreverent student from a fishing community. His
roommate David Schreiner (Todd Field) is neat and high-strung. His
Gross Human Anatomy class is taught by Dr. Rachel Woodruff (Christine
Lahti) who thinks he doesn't try hard enough. He changes group to be
close to Laurie Rorbach (Daphne Zuniga). The group includes the
self-important Miles Reed and Kim McCauley with a family.
This is 'The Paper Chase' of medical school. Everything in the story is telegraphed. The story is pretty well done. The acting is solid. There are some lighter rom-com moments but this is a generally serious drama. The major problem seems to be that there is an expectation of a wacky comedy with heart. There is no wacky comedy in this. There is a sprinkling of lighter moments in a pretty solid school drama.
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