Steve Martin in an R-rated movie, is it possible? Well, with Novocaine, a stylishly dark comedy, anything is possible. And while the plot feels very familiar, there’s something about this movie that makes it strangely engaging. It’s effortlessly weird and quirky, offering a potent mix of crime and comedy. It even danced with Noire, ultimately deciding that it needs to remain a bit lighter. However, you should know that things will get quite serious.
Novocaine is not your usual Steve Martin comedy. It follows a dentist who after meeting a vivacious young woman gets caught in a whirlwind of sex, passion, and murder. We have seen a lot of these movies where one person is just going through the life motions until something happens that pushes them outside their comfort zone. And before you say that life begins outside your comfort zone, I have to say that’s only half-true. You will get your “I feel alive” moment but life as a whole is a whole ‘nother story.
Anyways, I said we’ve seen a lot of these movies and we need more of them. We are pushed into these specific roles from our early childhood and spend most of our lives never questioning them. Once you do wake up, it usually feels that it’s too late. I have to tell you that it’s never too late. As long as you’re breathing, you’re good to go. But before this turns into another pretentious philosophical rant, let’s cut to the plot.
Meet Frank, a professional and quite boring dentist, trapped in practice he really doesn’t want to be in. His days are all the same until she walks into his office. Susan is an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a very beautiful and smart young woman. She sees something in Frank, something that makes him feel alive and different. Until he starts realizing that there are more things going on in the background.
Apart from Martin and Carter’s terrific performances, I have to mention Laura Dern who was simply majestic as Frank’s high-power wife. And who could forget Kevin Bacon playing an actor in too deep. With a runtime of exactly ninety minutes, Novocaine is a cute little thriller even offering a couple of surprising twists. It never settles on a specific genre so it’s a definition of a mildly amusing movie.
And while Novocaine teased noire, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid also starring Steve Martin is a full-on noire parody and a very strange movie. So, if you’re a fan of the genre, you might want to check it out. If, however, you’re looking for something more similar, Home Sweet Hell is a much better choice. This time, our furniture store salesman stuck in a rut will meet a hot new coworker with a whole lot of trouble soon to follow.
Director: David Atkins
Writers: Paul Felopulos, David Atkins
Cast: Steve Martin, Laura Dern, Helena Bonham Carter, Elias Koteas, Keith David, Kevin Bacon, Scott Caan
Fun Facts: This is actually a second time Steve Martin is playing a role of a dentist. Little Shop of Horrors was the first time.