Critical Care/C,C+


     Director Sidney Lumet takes his satirical bite to modern hospital care and family concerns over death but this time out his material has no teeth. The fantastic energy that drove Network is missing in Critical Care.  Only the very funny Albert Brooks provides some needed laughs in the role of crooked, babbling Chief of Surgery at a major hospital.
    Dr. Werner Ernst is an intern surviving on caffeine and a desire to make lots of money. When a comatose patient under his charge sets off a tug of war between two half sisters hungering after their dying father's fortune, Ernst is seduced by one of the pair. She wants him to pull the plug on her father post haste to her grab the loot according to the will. Meanwhile, Spader does boring battle with senile Dr. Butz who in a running joke keeps calling Ernst into his office and can't remember sending for him. To make matters more complex, Ernst is the leading candidate to join the high tech team of Dr, Hofstader, which will assure his future. What's it gonna be. Ernst's favorite nurse, Stella, is the single voice of humanity at the hospital. What's it gonna be? Pull the plug, count the bucks, or dig deep and find a doctor inside?
     James Spader sleepwalks through the role of intern Werner Ernst. He can't find a comic or satiric core to break loose from the confines of a dull script. The usually funny Kyra Sedgewick and the sister seductress is like a lost visitor roaming the hospital corridors looking for something funny to say. Helen Mirren is sincere as Nurse Stella, but she seems lost in another part of the story. Critical Care in antiseptic to a fault.

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Brooks supplies some needed laughs as Dr. Butz.ŠLive

     The colors on this widescreen 1.85 DVD are rather washed out and there is a consistent excess of grain. Even the light output is relatively pale. The image is consistently sharp. Perhaps its a measure of the way Lumet shot the film. Like the script, the DVD lacks punch and is merely acceptable. The Dolby Digital 5:1 sound is all right, but the film does not make great use of the selection of hospital   sounds.




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