The Dentist (1932) Poster

(1932)

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8/10
The Drill of It All
lugonian6 September 2003
THE DENTIST (Paramount, 1932), directed by Leslie Pearce, stars the legendary comic WC Fields in his first of four 20 minute comedy shorts produced by Mack Sennett, which ranks one of his best reproduced vaudeville comedy supplements ever put on film. Raunchy and very naughty, this comedy short pulls no punches, which is why this one has stood up well among Fields' other short subjects. As in the best of Fields' domestic comedies, he has a disfunctional family, but in this case he the disfunctional one, an absent-minded father (possibly a widower since there is no wife present)with a grown daughter (Marjorie "Babe" Kane) in love with Arthur, the ice man (Harry Bowen).

THE DENTIST begins at home where the Dentist (WC Fields) is reading his newspaper at the breakfast table while his daughter tries to put in a big chunk of ice into the ice box. He gets a telephone call from Charlie Frobisher (Bud Jamison) to come out for a game of golf. The first half of the comedy short focuses on Fields' trials and tribulations in trying to win his hand of golf, ending in frustration as he throws his caddy (Bobby Dunn) into the pond, along with his golf clubs and bags. The second half fades into the dental office where the dentist, with the assistance of his nurse (Zedna Farley), must encounter his scheduled appointments with numerous character patients, including a screaming woman with a tooth ache who had been bitten in the ankle by a dog, "It's fortunate it wasn't a Newfoundland dog that bit you," quips Fields as he views her while she bends down to show him her scar; followed by a male patient in the waiting room who quietly walks out after hearing some screams; and highlighted by another woman patient (Elsie Cavanna) who must submit to the drill followed by the dentist trying to yank the bad tooth out of her mouth as she is being dragged about with her bad tooth still attached to the Dentist's pliers. At the same time, his daughter, who is locked in her bedroom upstairs by her father so not to run away and marry the ice man, stubbornly stumps her feet repeatedly on the floor, causing the plaster from the ceiling to fall into the patient's open mouth. In spite of his unsympathetic nature, this dentist continues to acquire more patients as well as patience.

A crude comedy in every sense of the word, but one that has become famous over the years and worth reviewing because of it. Even Fields' spoken dialogue, which he had written, includes lines such as, "Oh, the hell with her," which he tells his nurse after listening to a lady patient groaning in pain with her tooth ache. Even during the golf game earlier in the story, Fields nearly tells his caddy what he can do with the rule book. One of the most famous lines, however, has Fields asking his patient, "Have you ever had this tooth pulled before?" Dialogue and scenes like these must have caused a furor with the censors at the time of its release, especially the use of that motory sounding drill, which gets the biggest laughs from its viewers.

Also in the cast are: Billy Bletcher as the Russian patient; Dorothy Granger as Miss Peppitone; and Emma Tansey as the old lady at the golf course, among others.

For many years, THE DENTIST had become a public domain title, and distributed on video cassette through various distributors, often featured with two other WC Fields shorts as THE GOLF SPECIALIST (RKO, 1930) and THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER (1933). These have also been a favorite on commercial and cable television as fillers between feature films during the late night hours. Recently, all of Fields' sound comedy shorts have been restored to better picture and sound quality, and these clearer prints were packaged through Public Media Home Vision Video in the late 1990s. While it's great to see these comedy gems in sharp focus, along with other ad ons such as Fields' ten minute silent short, POOL SHARKS (1915), THE PHARMACIST (1933) and THE BARBER SHOP (1933), the only disappointment in turn happens to be THE DENTIST. The reason being that although restored, THE DENTIST not only includes new background music, which is nowhere to be heard during the storyline in its original print, except for during the opening and closing credits, but the movie itself has been slightly shortened with the raunchy dialogue substituted by different lines or covered up by intrusive underscoring, which takes away from the film's original intent. At present, the censored and cleaned up print, possibly from a reissue after the production code had taken effect, is the one used when shown on American Movie Classics in 2000, and on Turner Classic Movies in June 2001 when the station honored WC Fields as its "star of the month." To see THE DENTIST, uncensored and in its full glory, it would be best to locate an older video copy dating back to the 1980s. Nonetheless, with the exception of it weak ending, the uncensored version to THE DENTIST ranks the best of the four Fields/Sennett comedy shorts for Paramount, and should be seen to be believed.
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Ow!
Schlockmeister13 June 2001
In ill-humour after a bad golf game, W.C. Fields takes his ire out on a series of dental patients and his daughter who has taken up with the iceman. If you can, try to obtain an uncut version of this comedy classic as there are some unusually off-colour lines and scenes for a short of this time period. Fields is best here, just allowed to chatter to himself. His shorts bear repeat watchings just to catch more of what he says. I have always considered him much more of a verbal comedian than a slapstick physical comedian and it truly did take the advent of sound to display his talent to their fullest. If the scene where Fields is pulling the woman's teeth looks a little suggestive to you, it is loosely based on a well-known (at the time) stag smoker film that was made in the 1920s called "The Slow Fire Dentist" which featured that dentist pulling a woman's tooth standing between her legs , her getting tangled in his coat, and being under heavy sedation. Not an exact match, of course (the stag film dentist gets a lot luckier than W. C. ever did in any movie!) but enough to see an influence. One of Fields' most famous shorts, and rightfully so! Recommended!
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7/10
Fields was ALWAYS funny.
KennethEagleSpirit1 February 2007
Both on and off screen. I don't consider this particular short one of his best, but it is good. It seems a little slower than many of his other works in that his comebacks, etc. aren't fired off as quickly as I'm used to when it comes to his style of wit. But it has its moments, and there are enough of those to make it entertaining. One of those moments is due to the wonderful slapstick comic ability of Elise Cavanna. As a rather clingy dental patient, given her manner, looks and talent as an "acrobat", the only person I can think of to compare her with is Carrol Burnett. And she compares right well. Other cast members also help make this flick as good as it is. Such as Bud Jamison who, with his very familiar face, adds good comic backup. Of course there is that terrific line when, after Fields has been punched, and the iceman steps in to say, "I'd like to see you do that again!", Fields interjects ... Well, you watch it. Its worth the effort.
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A Must See for Fields' Fans
Michael_Elliott23 January 2014
The Dentist (1932)

*** (out of 4)

W.C. Fields gets to shine in this pre-code Paramount short where he plays the title role. The film starts off as the dentist learns that his daughter is wanting to date an ice delivery man, which of course he wants no part of. After a disastrous round of golf the dentist returns to his office where several strange characters wait. THE DENTIST is perhaps one of Fields' best known shorts for a number of reasons. Of course, one of the more notorious reasons is all the sexual innuendo that happens once the final portion of the film happens. I'm not going to spoil these scenes but they are quite funny and especially the dialogue where Fields pretty much just insults them right to their faces. The stuff dealing with the golf was also quite funny and especially the sequence where the actor just completely loses it and begins throwing everything into the water. There are several scenes in the film where people have their teeth damaged in a wide variety of ways so those scared of the men in white will certainly want to stay away from this thing even though it is a comedy. There's no question Fields is at the top of his game because everything from his line delivery to the way he walks is just perfect.
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7/10
Very Funny if Fragmentary
BJJManchester24 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
WC Fields plays golf and pulls teeth in probably the best short he made for Mack Sennett.The film itself is not particularly well-constructed,seeming to be a pasting together of unrelated sketches,but the material involved is funny enough to forget these negative points.

The opening domestic and golf scenes rely mostly on Fields' familiar grain of verbal humour,but the sustained dentist sequence concentrates mainly on sight gags,some of which are of a surprisingly risqué quality for the early 1930's.The outrageously funny incidents with loose-limbed,gawky Elise Cavanna were in fact deleted from reissue prints for many years until they were thankfully reinstated for less easily shocked modern audiences.The antics in the dentist surgery could have come across as obvious and old hat,but thanks to clever sound effects and effectively performed and executed slapstick are extremely funny.Fields was a very accomplished physical as well as verbal comedian,and despite his advancing years handles these bits of comic business superbly.

It is a shame that Fields didn't make more short films in his movie career.His output was far lower than Laurel and Hardy,Chaplin,Keaton,Lloyd,etc. and,as was the tendency with the aforementioned,some of his features could be dragged down by dull romantic or serious sub-plots,plus time consuming musical numbers.Here in THE DENTIST at least we see Fields in his purest comic form unhindered by such disadvantages,and it is all the better for it.

RATING:7 and a half out of 10.
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10/10
Rendering the usually Painful Trip to the Dentist's Office much "Cooler" with An Ice Man (not Red Grange!)
redryan6416 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Contrary to how we so often feel, the comic characters and the little bits of "funny business" or routines that our beloved Funnymen from the old movies left to film posterity weren't just always there. Like any other field of human endeavor, they were discovered, finely honed and then improved upon, leaving a final "Classic" bit or two.

Hence, Stan Laurel laboured both in front of the camera and behind it before finding true "Success" and "Immortality" in celluloid. Beside his extensive work as a gag man and a Director, Mr. Laurel made a number of fine, genuinely funny comedies for a number of Studios. And, while amusing the audience, there was not much to distinguish them from early work by Harold Lloyd, Ford Sterling, Edgar Kennedy or 'Snub' Pollard, even.

But once the accidental teaming with Oliver Hardy at the Hal Roach Studios had occurred, the erstwhile Laurel rapid fire gag comedy slowed down. And so was born a Screen Dual Legend and even a prototype for future teamings. (Kramden & Norton and Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble being two on the "Family Tree".) And so it was with W.C. Fields that his persona, physical mannerisms, high pitched voice and exaggerated, even theatrical speech patterns would all come slowly to the renowned Juggler. His years on the stage gradually transformed him, but there was still a ways to go when "the Talkies" took over America's Movie Nights.

The last part of this to evolve was his Screen Personality. It is often been said that the four Mack Sennett Sound Comedy Two reelers of 1932-33 were the true genesis and microcosm of the Fields' Personality. It is the first of these four, THE DENTIST (1932) that we consider here, today.* It opens up at the Breakfast Table, where(apparently) widower Fields, the Dentist opens up showing his tough,nasty-tempered but a softy at heart. After learning of his daughter's affections for Arthur, their Ice Man, and making his disapproval known, he's off to an early morning date with friends on the Golf Course.

The rest of the film is spent between the Golf Course and his Dentist's Office, which is situated on the lower level front of his residence.** There is plenty of interplay between the pompous, gasbag of a Professional Man Dentist and his patients, an angry Golfer & his Son, and his daughter and Arthur, the ice man.

Throughout the whole 21 minutes of film, we are treated to embryonic versions of what is to come in future feature films and even his Network Radio Show. He makes good use of puns, sight gags, women & foreigners as comic foils. He also brings us an appreciation for what could be only called a rapier like tongue dishing out what could only be referred to as being politically in-correct humor in his referral to ethnicity and race.*** Of course, that was then and this is now! In summing this up, it must be noted that this film THE DENTIST packs more in it than most any other 2 reel comedy shorts. And it sure is a fine example the comedy short. It belongs in everybody's home video library, whether VHS or DVD or even Beta!

NOTE: * Just for the Record, the 4 W.C.Fields Comedy Shorts done for Producer Mack Sennett were THE DENTIST(1932), THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER('33), THE PHARMASCIST('33) and THE BARBER SHOP('33).They were Mack Sennett Productions/released by Paramount Pictures Corporation.

NOTE: **The practice of using a part of the residence as a office for Doctors and Dentists was an old, tried and true way of doing things and survives to this day in many locales.

NOTE:***Ethnic and references and indeed Ethnic and Racial Humor were generally accepted in those "good old days." And we know that Mr. Fields was fond of using same. By way of example, we had the remark in THE DENTIST, when he states, ...." I once knew a Doctor who treated a guy for yellow jaundice for 2 years before he discovered that he was a Jap!" (C'mon everybody get over it and act like grown-ups! After all, it was Good Queen Victoria who tried to tell the world that the Irish were sub-human! That's my people, Schultz!)
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Pretty Good Short With a Good Role For Fields
Snow Leopard25 July 2001
This is a pretty good short comedy, with W.C. Fields in a role that works very well for him, as an irascible and absent-minded dentist, and several settings that offer the chance for some good comic material. The dentist has some difficulties with his daughter at home, then has some mishaps on the golf course, and finally heads to the office for more trouble. There is a good blend of sight gags and dialogue jokes. Some of the gags are quite clever, and Fields usually helps the more routine ones to come across pretty well, too. This should be worth a look for anyone who likes these 30's-style short comedies.
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One W.C.'s best shorts
Marta20 August 2000
W.C. Fields plays the title role in this short, and he's not a dentist I'd want to visit but he's extremely funny. There are all sorts of classic throw away gags in here, from melting a heavy 50 pound block of ice on the stove down to ice cube size to make it easier to carry, to a man with a huge beard, in which the dentist can't seem to find his mouth. Trying to pull a tooth from a society matron, he and the patient assume every possible position as he attempts to get the tooth out. At one point he's carrying her around while hanging onto the tooth with pliers. Ouch! While this is going on, he's also trying to stop his daughter from going out with the ice man, by locking her in her room. Very inventive and still very funny.
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8/10
Do NOT watch this if you are phobic about going to the Dentist!
MartinHafer10 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very funny comedy short from W. C. Fields. He plays about the most incompetent and unfeeling dentist you could imagine--almost as bad as seeing Zell from MARATHON MAN! The film begins with a domestic scene--Fields is home with his daughter having breakfast. Soon he leaves to play a round of golf before work. He's a terrible golfer and quite the cheat. Watching him get made and toss the poor caddy into the lake was pretty cool! When he arrives at work, several goofy patients come to see him, ranging from the woman who screams before he even touches her, another woman who wraps herself around him like an Anaconda (in an interesting pre-Code segment) and a man with a bushy beard--so bushy Fields can't even find his mouth! And, during all this, he keeps telling patients "this doesn't hurt a bit"--as they are in obvious severe pain. He also loses his temper at one point and cusses at a patient.

There is a subplot involving his daughter and her boyfriend, but this was only an excuse to claim that there was a real story here. No, this was really a string of Fields gags all strung together in a short pleasing little package. Funny and edgy.
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6/10
Extracting humor and teeth
bkoganbing14 June 2011
The Dentist was the first of four Mack Sennet shorts that W.C. Fields made in between his feature films with Paramount. In this one he extracts a bit of humor.

Actually before he gets to the office Fields gets in a round of golf where he beans a player still on the green ahead of him. Fields was never the most patient or polite of people and he neither asked if he could play through or yelled 'FORE'. Nothing changes I might add for professional people in 80 or so years, still golf before business.

When he gets to the office he has some real tussles with patients. I can see where Bob Hope got some of his ideas for his Painless Potter character from The Paleface. One scene was truly provocative as Fields with back to camera gets between a seated woman patient's legs in his efforts to extract a tooth. Elsie Cavenna the patient had some shapely legs and she did appear in a few more films with Fields.

No way in a few years that one would have gotten past the omnipresent Code. But now we can laugh and enjoy as the rest of Bill Fields's body of work.
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8/10
W.C Fields on very good form.
alexanderdavies-9938229 July 2017
I am probably not the biggest fan of W.C Fields. I find his comedy a bit difficult to comprehend at times and his character in his films was usually far from affable. In most of his films, he usually had some rather devious ulterior motive up his sleeve and sought to deceive those around him. To be fair to the comedian though, he is on very good form in this comedy short, "The Dentist" from 1932. Like most comedy shorts, the story is kept fairly streamlined. Fields plays the dentist of the film who attempts to juggle his professional commitments with those of his personal ones. The results are very funny and the timing is very natural. The comedian is probably more comfortable with dialogue than with slapstick. I remember this comedy short when it came out on video back in the late 1980s, along with the other shorts W.C Fields made.
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7/10
"Have you ever had this tooth pulled before?"
classicsoncall1 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
With about half of W.C. Fields' time spent on the golf course and the other half in his dentist's office, this short might have been called 'The Golfer' and still offered the same story. Maybe reverse the halves of the picture, but you get the idea.

This is the one in which patient Elise Cavanna wraps her legs around Fields and hangs on for dear life in a pre-Code eye opener that's bound to get your attention the first time you see it. You have to wonder how audiences of the time reacted to stuff like this since it looks pretty suggestive even today. Come to think of it, this could have been one of those exploitation flicks of the era dealing with the dangers of dentistry with a little hootchie-cootchie thrown in.

In real life Fields wasn't the easiest person to get along with so a lot of his mumbling and grumbling would have been true to character. A pretty good example was a line spoken to his caddy on the green right before he threw him into the water hazard - "Never mind where I tell you to stand. You stand where I tell'ya"!
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10/10
Only Fields Could Pull This Off
jadedalex11 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
W.C. Fields was almost Charlie Chaplin's 'anti-christ'. It was EASY to fall in love with the charming little tramp. Fields was entering dangerous territory...talk about 'sick jokes'. Lenny Bruce is often attributed as creator of the 'sick joke', but Fields was into this twisted humor decades before. It's part of American culture. Now Fields is loved, but not ADORED like Chaplin. I consider them both geniuses, but Fields was doing a dangerous thing. Making cynicism, cruelness somehow funny. He was almost the comedic male equivalent of Bette Davis, who relished portraying loathsome characters. I'm a recovering alcoholic, and I still find the drunk jokes hilarious....hell, I can relate to nearly every one! This short features nastiness on a golf course, and to me, the humor of Fields drilling on the teeth of his female patient as she raises her skirt, writhing in pain, and exhibiting a wonderful pair of legs, is precious. How Fields got away with this in the first place is a mystery...there are shots in this sequence that look like a porn movie! The Motion Picture Code censored these scenes (I've seen the shortened version), but I just downloaded a beautiful restored copy on the internet.
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6/10
W.C. Fields as ornery as ever on the golf course and at the dentist...
Doylenf14 July 2008
Whether he's pulling teeth with all the subtlety of a man with a whirring motorized drill or playing golf with a losing streak that causes him to toss his caddy into a stream of water, W.C. FIELDS is as ornery and ill-tempered as ever in this short subject from '32.

By today's standards, it's a terribly old-fashioned and crude look at the profession of dentistry with Fields showing no regard at all for a polished technique of examining patients and/or pulling teeth. His nurse plays it straight while he tussles with a variety of patients, one of them a woman who literally wraps herself around him as he struggles to pull a tooth and another, a man with a beard so thick that Fields states: "I can't even find his mouth." None of it makes any sense and it's all played strictly for whatever laughs anyone can get out of the character that W.C. Fields invented for pre-code audiences.

Summing up: Not for the squeamish. Anyone preparing for their next dental appointment better avoid this one. The politically correct may be offended by some of the ethnic humor--particularly the "yellow jaundice" joke about a Jap.
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8/10
"50 lbs., and make it snappy"
weezeralfalfa9 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
My title is the last line in this 21 min. W.C. Fields short comedy. It relates to one of the 3 main topics covered. W.C.'s daughter, Mary(Marjorie Kune) is in the process of eloping with her iceman boyfriend, Arthur, having just climbed down from the window of her room, locked by W.C.. Mary pleads: "Father, you're not really going to buy that (electric) Frigidaire, are You?" After a moment's reflection, W.C. responds "50 lbs.(of ice), and make it snappy". The fact that Arthur had knocked down the man who just punched W.C. may have influenced his changed attitude toward him, as a prospective son-in-law.

Mary had been misbehaving since W.C. locked her in her room, which was right above the dental office. Thus, she stomped on the floor to make distracting noise, and to cause some plaster to fall from the ceiling below, right where the dental chair was.

The screenplay also begins with W.C. interacting with Mary, at breakfast time. We see evidence of W.C.'s inattention and absent-mindedness in the following examples:

W.C.: "Where's my glasses?" Mary: "On your head!" W.C.: "Where's the newspaper?" Mary: "You're sitting on it!" W.C.: "Where's my golf bag?" Mary: "You just fell over it!" W.C.: "Where's my hat?" Mary: "You never wear one!" W.C.: "Where's the soap?" Dental assistant: "In your hand!"

The golf portion is only 4 min. long. In it, W.C. tees off, not waiting for 4 golfers to get off the green. The ball hits one on the head, knocking him out. The ball bounces into a hole, but the wrong one. W.C pays no attention to the injured man, as he is carried off the green by others. W.C. turns his back toward the cup, and throws the ball over his shoulder, it rolling into the cup....In the next shoot, W.C. is teeing off over a large pond, but his balls keep falling short of the opposite bank. Finally, he's had enough, yelling at the caddy, throwing his club in the pond, then his golf bag, then the caddy.

The dental plus finale portion of the film is 14 min. long, during which he deals with 3 patients: 2 young women and a bearded Russian. Miss Peppitone initially complains about a dachshund that bit her just above the ankle, which she bends over suggestively to point out. "It's a good thing it wasn't a Newfoundland hound" remarks W.C. W.C. asks if she wants gas. She says "Either gas or electric, as I would feel nervous if you fooled around with me in the dark". W.C couldn't even get his mirror close to her mouth without her screaming. Finally, he gave up....Miss Mason was also tall and thin. She was much more relaxed than Miss Peppitone, surviving a drilling with little problem. Never mind filling the cavity. Next, came the extraction of a bad tooth, using plyers. She wrapped her legs around W.C., who was standing between her legs. He lifted her off the chair with one arm, while he pulled at the tooth with the other. Good thing the censorship code wasn't fully inforce. Next is a Russian(presumably), with a very long beard. W.C. has trouble finding his mouth. Instead of using common sense, W.C. probes his beard with a stethoscope! Several birds supposedly fly out of his beard.

"The Dentist" is one of several short W.C. comedies, produced by Mack Sennett in the early '30s. Others include: "The Golf Specialist", "The Pharmacist", "The Barber Shop", and "The Fatal Glass of Beer".
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8/10
I liked it though I'm not a W.C. Fields fan.
topgun-1025 December 2006
I know the movie is a comedy short, but it didn't strike me as being terribly funny. Yet that's what I've come to expect of Fields' work. True, the movie had a number of amusing lines and situations, but I find it more interesting as a peek into American life in 1932. First, the Dentist had his office in his home. Second, his all-black dental equipment, common for the time, looked like instruments of torture. Third, he had an ice box in his kitchen, not a refrigerator -- though in upper middle-class fashion of the time, it had a white enamel exterior, not wood. Though I haven't viewed the film in a number of years, I also recall the interesting wearing apparel in the golf course scenes, most notably the knickers; the clubs had wood shafts; but the course itself appeared very contemporary. Then again, the tee-fairway-green structure of golf courses is pretty much the same today as it was more than 70 years ago. True, the sound quality is very crude, but this movie was made just five years after the very first film "talkie" amazed its audiences.
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4/10
Forgettable effort by a forgotten name
Horst_In_Translation11 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Dentist" is a black-and-white sound comedy short film from over 80 years ago that runs for 20 minutes. The star here is W.C. Fields and he was actually a pretty big name in the 1930s and 1940s. So how come he is not really known today anymore, compared to Laurel, Hard, the Stooges and of course the silent film legends? Maybe it is that he does not have the goofy youthful aura like the others, but plays a dad of a grown-up woman in this one for example. Or maybe the reason is that his humour was very dialogue-reliant while the others relied much more on slapstick and body language than on words. Anyway, all in all I must say that this short film here did not turn me into a fan and it is one of his most famous. He plays a dentist and the second half of the film takes place in his practice and we see him deal with a couple patients. The first half takes place mostly at the golf course. I cannot really say the humor in here hit a nerve for me and that last scene with the punchings left a sour note as well as it was so obvious that there were huge gaps between the fist and the face. Not a memorable movie in my opinion, with a fairly amateurish ending. Not recommended.
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