By the way, you get to see Jason Lee skate a bit. Cool beans.
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By the way, you get to see Jason Lee skate a bit. Cool beans.
If you look at this in one way, you might think Mumford is merely a passive character, who only comes to life when he falls in love and when his secret is revealed. But gradually, you come to realize what's going on. Not only is his reticence a cover(a good one until he's exposed), but it's a way of, as I said, just gently prodding his patients to the right path. So he is active, but just in subtle ways. You need a subtle actor to handle that, and Loren Dean does quite a good job in that department. Hope Davis, who if there's any justice in this world will become a star, is also good as the patient he falls in love with. Their scenes together reminded me of the relationship between William Hurt and Geena Davis in THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, a Kasdan film this shares a lot with. And the rest of the cast is quite good as well(it's also nice to see Elisabeth Moss, so good in IMAGINARY CRIMES, still getting work, though I hope it's bigger roles in the future).
My only complaint was the scene where Mumford explains to Jason Lee(also excellent) and us what his past really was. The details themselves were okay, but the sequence was shot in grainy video stock(I think; I'm not an expert here), which, while it pays off later, is distracting here, particularly with its point-of-view camera. Still, this is a minor quibble for a movie which will leave you with a big smile on your face the entire way through.
You might conclude from other opinions that Mumford (the character) is passive out of timidity or lack of purpose or even in order to preserve his anonymity. However, I believe he is passionate about his "profession" and has a very clear philosophy and purpose. I think his therapeutic prescriptions for his "patients" represent sympathetic, compassionate and very intentional interventions in their lives. However, his persona is low-key and his methods of intervention are indirect. Thus their dramatic impact seems to be just the natural consequence of the patients' living their own lives - just as the good doctor intends.
This kind of subtlety is in short demand and hence supply in the contemporary world of in-your-face computer generated special effects, one dimensional characters and unimaginative dialog. But, if you enjoy films like Grand Canyon, The Accidental Tourist, Local Hero and Passion Fish, you'll like this film. It is driven by a great balance of plot and well developed characters, played by a wonderful ensemble cast.
Dean does a fabulous job of portraying the soft-spoken, easy-going "shrink" and is so likable that he makes the film enjoyable.
There are a few spots that drag on too long, such as a few scenes with Hope Davis' character but the "patients" as a whole are certainly interesting and varied. This is another one of those films that got much press, and undeservedly-so because it's pretty entertaining with a good cast. In addition to the above, we see Alfre Woodard, Mary McDonnell, David Paymer, Martin Short and Ted Danson. If you are familiar with those actors, you'll know why a psychiatrist is needed!
the innate ability to listen to people. When he listens,
people reveal their secret lives and take off their masks.
This is the result of an almost Christ-like empathy that
he has. Yet, ironically, he himself doesn't want to face
The film makes that point that we are who we think we are.
It portrays Socrates' ancient motto "Know Thyself" in a
very entertaining and intriguing way. The film seems to
tell us that genuine human connection is the best form of
therapy. A thoughtful and thought-provoking movie -- see
it if you can.
Starring: Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee, Alfre Woodard, Martin Short, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Mary McDonnell, Zooey Deschanel, David Paymer, Jane Adams, and Ted Danson Written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. 96 minutes Rated R (for sex-related images featuring nudity, drug content, and some language)
By Blake French:
"Mumford" is a cuddly little comedy production with a happy, uplifting atmosphere like the ones found in "Pleasantville" and "The Truman Show." Mumford is the name of a small fantasy town, filed with smiling people greeting each other on a daily basis, which is held in upheaval when a small time psychiatrist's true entity is revealed to his various patients.
I am getting ahead on myself, here. Before I can explain what happens after the characters discover the secrets about Mumford, the name of psychiatrist also, I must first give you some background information on the characters. The mismatched characters are eccentric and entertaining. They are developed though sessions with Mumford. To make things even more original for the movie is the lack of plot structure here. The conflicts, problems and solutions all exist in each individual character, not necessarily a situation they are placed into.
With Mumford included, here are the characters: Sofie Crisp, (Hope Davis), who is nearly bedridden after a severe and almost permanent loss of energy. Henry Follett (Pruitt Taylor Vince) whose mind is overflowing with wild and erotic sex fantasies, but he isn't featured in any of them. Skip Skipperton, (Jason Lee) a young, skateboarding corporate billionaire that is so lonely and without friends that he has spend the last several years designing robots to fit individual's sexual pleasures. Nessa Watkins, (Zooey Deschanel) who has social, smoking, relationship, and obsession issues. Lionel Dillard, (Martin Short) a lawyer who's disturbing images Mumford refuses to listen to. Jeremy Brockett (Ted Danson), who is great to himself but treats his family members like dirt. Dr. Ernest Delbanco (David Paymer) and Dr. Phyllis Sheeler (Jane Adams), the only other two mental health doctors in Mumford who question Mumford's creditability. And finally, there is the Mumford character himself, played by Loren Dean, who has such a compelling flashback sequence developing his entire life in five minutes effectively, we learn that this man also had some problems, he just was willing to turn his life around. This character alone makes the film worth while to see, for his mysterious past life is such a revealing subject that it is hard not to become intrigued.
There is much to like about "Mumford." There are the enormously entertaining characters, who are not puppets of the plot, but contain their own personal emotions and motives. A charming, imaginative atmosphere. The direction by Lawrence Kasdan is focused and organized; he seems to know exactly what he wants, and achieves it. The personal territory the film's story covers, a psychiatrist mind, as well as the thoughts of many disturbed individuals, is quite compelling. Also, I think there is an important message here, signifying the need of people to communicate to one another and how important it is to listen to each other--values everyone should have.
The conclusion to "Mumford" contains no big, extravagant climax. Nor does it completely bring the film's message to a direct close. It is a happy, petty ending in which almost everyone goes home happy, but still lets the imagination wonder. This ending only provides the fact that this is a character and mood movie, not a plot based movie. It ends how it needs to end, assuring this film will stick with the viewer for sometime to come.
Brought to you by Touchstone Pictures.
'Mumford', written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan (The Bodyguard, The Big Chill) is a surprisingly great film. Really, this is just a very well-told story. Dr. Mumford's curious cases pull the film along, but those fragmented stories really wouldn't have been enough for 99 minutes so when the film's big twist comes mid-way, it's a smooth transition from examining Mumford's patients and their crises to watching the problems of the doctor himself, and the way's he tries to deal with them.
Loren Dean, while not the typically charismatic protagonist, is oddly interesting as the humble and odd psychologist; and really does communicate a very relaxed persona, making it easy to see why people feel the need to confide in him. Zooey Deschanel is a great little secondary character, totally at ease and entertaining in her role as the off-beat misfit. My one complaint may be that the love story between Dr. Mumford and his patient Sofie isn't executed very well; there really isn't enough screen time given to the development of their budding feelings, and in fact most of their realizations about their feelings for one another come either off-screen or are explored individually, like when Dr. Mumford talks about his feelings for Sofie with patient and friend Skip Skipperton. Furthermore, there isn't much chemistry between Loren Dean and Hope Davis. Between Davis's sleep-deprived, baggy-eyed divorcée, Sofie and Dean's stony-calm Dr. Mumford; the romance is lackluster, at best. The film is only 99 minutes long, and I wish it was longer with more emphasis and development on the Dean/Davis romance.
I really enjoyed this film and was very glad I found it while looking through Zooey Deschanel's filmography. It's just a shame not more people know about it.
Mumford touches the lives of the people that come to him seeking his advice. Among the people he helps, there is Sofie Crisp, a young woman suffering from depression and some sort of fatigue syndrome that renders her unfit to live her life to the fullest. With Mumford's help, she begins her daily walks as she gains confidence and opens up to see what is out there.
The film opens with a black and white sequence that is a fantasy being played in the mind of Henry. We realize it's only his mind wandering as he is not capable of doing what he dreams about. There is also the young millionaire who is one of the richest men in the country because his firm produces modems for computers and who doesn't care to show his eccentric side for all to see.
Mumford's cover is finally revealed when an episode of the television program "Unsolved Mysteries" in which he is showcased. The town of Mumford, instead of condemning him, rallies in its support of a man that has done more in his humble way to help the community in spite of his deceit.
"Mumford" is a delightful movie thanks to Loren Dean, who plays the title role. Mr. Dean does a wonderful work. Hope Davis is also a charming presence in the picture. The large supporting cast has some brilliant faces in it, Alfre Woodard, Jason Lee, Mary McDonnell, Pruitt Taylor Vance, Martin Short, Jane Adams, David Paymer, and Ted Danson, among them.
The film's success belongs to Lawrence Kasdan whose brilliant take on a man who is a fake, but who has seen into the hearts of the people he has decided to settle in.
I left the film thinking it was not very memorable . . . really quite silly in many respects. But now, days later, I find I am haunted by bits and pieces that creep back into my psyche.
A few of these bits are: 1. A psychiatrist is really not able to change much. People's problems are too deep. 2. Major depression or crisis occurs when two divergent, conflicting thoughts meet head-on . . . the old approach/avoidance syndrome revisited. 3. Love concurs all.
Go see it and see what you think.
OK, he's learning on the job, so he makes a few mistakes here and there (e.g. confidentiality). but he is intuitive, kind, caring, present, and natural - in contrast with the psychiatrist and the other psychologist in town, both of whom are stylized in the all-too-common "therapist" way).
if he worked in my town, i'd refer patients to him. if your therapist feels and sounds like the psychiatrist in the film, go find a mumford.
oh, and the film is fun, entertaining, hopeful - yet not all fun and games; there's a bit of a dark side.
It cleverly interweaves trenchant and even poignant characterizations and scenes with carefully directed, measured comic punch.
This is one of the best film shills for psychoanalysis I've ever seen. I know Mumford makes light of the professionalism of Western shrinks, but I think there's an important message here for people who are seeking professional help. This message is: If you don't feel it happening, you have to throw the situation over and keep seeking. I believe Mumford succeeds in pushing the bar for mental health a little higher.
Watch attentively and enjoy!
All of the criticisms about it in comments have been well-founded. It is slow-paced and even-paced. That is both good and bad. There was a preview for 'Gone in 60 Seconds' on the video tape that showed a frantic-paced movie that probably did better at the box office but I will bet was not as well written or as well-acted (Angelina Jolie is in 'Gone...', need I say more about the acting quality?) Pace may get your adrenaline flowing while your sitting in your seat but it doesn't do anything for your brain cells. Mumford engages you intellectually.
It is challenging to the viewer to believe that a billionaire computer mogul - skateboarder can practically own a town and move about as freely and anonymously as he does in this movie. Jason Lee is just the person to have that role, though. He portrays the eternal adolescent in a lot of movies (it would be difficult to watch him play an assassin or a pederast; he picks the roles that he can handle and as a reward, he now anchors a very successful sitcom).
The pace and some credibility issues aside, this movie is a pleasure to watch. Everything about the movie shares a harmony with its subject which is basically psychology.
I read somewhere that Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) on the Sopranos was recommended to psychiatrists-in-training as the model for a focused listener, which is what a shrink is. Mickey Mumford (Loren Dean) is right up there with her as an exemplary professional when it comes to listening. In contrast, Dr. Melfi is even a little too tense and rigid (in keeping with her character, to Lorraine Bracco's credit as a fine actress). Mumford is simultaneously relaxed and alert; really, I could watch him sit still forever and be endlessly fascinated by the blink of his eyes (there is a scene where he acknowledges the sexiness of his young patient Nessa with the faintest of smiles and a slow blink; an absolutely stunning expression with almost no movement in his body language).
I think I developed quite a crush on Loren Dean just watching him sit across from his patients.
Because the character Mumford is so brilliant, he can be forgiven his few lapses in professionalism. When we first see Mary McDowell come into his office, he has just told Martin Short to leave his office and never come back. He is calm about it but he insists that he doesn't want to see him in his office again and Mary McDowell is witness to that speech. As he brings her into the office, he comments about Martin Short, 'Jeez, what an asshole!' and Mary McDowell laughs delightedly as we watch her back while she heads towards the couch.
When he discusses his patients' problems with Jason Lee, making Lee feel uncomfortable, you sense that he's sharing his patients' dilemmas sympathetically, not revealing their weaknesses. If others don't see it that way, it is not his concern; he relates to people on a plane that doesn't share space with legal, professional ethics.
Which is all the more surprising when you find out later in the movie about his background story.
Every character (with Lily being the only possible exception) has a psychological profile that fits the story's needs and rings true. The underlying message might be, 'Everyone has problems; even your shrink has problems!' The movie never veers from that message. The feel-good addendum to that is: 'And by sharing and exploring your problems, you can have a better life.' That is true about every single character.
The way that Loren Dean sits in a chair, the way he listens, the intense but relaxed attitude he has while absorbing all the details of his clients - is inspiring. He has feelings, you never lose track of that fact, evidenced by his choice to suddenly shout at a patient when he thinks the patient's self-deception is so egregious that someone SHOULD shout at him.
Lawrence Kasdan made a wonderful little film; much much better than any of his others (Grand Canyon and The Big Chill aren't half as nice).
This movie is a great fable on redemption, on getting a second chance, on finding who you are and doin' what you're good at.
I'm surprised Mr. Dean didn't get himself a shot at stardom following his performance.
Mr. Kasdan has done a good job as well, both as a director and as a writer.
In the end it just gives you hope anyone can be fixed should people have the patience to listen to each other and be confident enough to spit their issues out.