By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: He has static electricity.
Theophilus North (Anthony Edwards) is a young man who arrives in the town of Newport Rhode Island in the 1920’s. He has little money or connections, but soon attracts attention with his ability to give off small electrical shocks to anyone he touches. Rumors abound that he can heal sick people with this power and everyone wants to meet him, but the town Dr. (David Warner) is not as impressed and accuses him of practicing medicine without a license and a court battle ensues.
The North character is quite likable. He is self-assured, but never obnoxious or overbearing and is sensitive to everyone he meets and always seems to have wise advice to give no matter what their ailment or problem. However, he starts to get to be a little ‘too good’ and it borders on being annoying. It would have been nice to have seen him with at least one flaw or transgression simply to prove that he was human. His electrical charge ability isn’t all that impressive and the way people become so in awe of it is overblown and dumb.
He also helps the Mr. Bosworth (Robert Mitchum) character who has a bladder control issue by giving him pills, which is nothing more than peppermint, but assures him it will ‘cure’ his ailment. Eventually it does suggesting that incontinence is a psychological problem, which is ridiculous as it is almost always a medical one and makes this an insult to anyone who suffers from it.
The tone is pleasing and the recreation of the period is satisfactory, but the pacing is off. Nothing at all happens during the first hour and only slightly gains traction during the end. The scene where North gets chased by a mob of people looking for him to cure them is amusing, but seems to shift this otherwise whimsical fable-like tale into an all-out farce.
The supporting cast is fun. Eccentric actress Tammy Grimes is good as Mitchum’s spoiled adult daughter who tries to make things as difficult for North as she can. Harry Dean Stanton puts on an very effective Limey accent and Lauren Bacall is interesting in a rare sympathetic role. David Warner is terrific as always as the heavy and it should have been played up even more.
The film is directed by Danny Huston who is the son of the legendary John Huston who also co-wrote the screenplay and his sister Angelica appears very briefly. Unfortunately the film is too predisposed at being one of those ‘feel-good’ movies and in the process becomes formulaic and one-dimensional. The final result is a slick, but slow moving production that is empty and forgettable.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: July 22, 1988
Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes
Director: Danny Huston
Studio: The Samuel Goldwym Company
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video