We finished watching “The Secret Lives of Dentists” on DVD last night, a Sundance sort of movie. Another way of saying “Sundance sort of movie” is “grittily realistic, well acted, and a film that made us immediately watch The Daily Show so we could get smiles back on our faces.” Nonetheless, we enjoyed “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” which centers around Campbell Scott’s increasingly strong suspicion that his wife, Hope Davis, is having an affair with someone she met at an operatic production.
And that just about sums up the plot line. Denis Leary, a trumpet-playing patient, serves as Scott’s alter ego, popping up all the time in mixed fantasy/reality scenes where Leary suggests stronger action to Scott than the normally mild-mannered dentist is prone to: “Tell her that you want to kill her.” When Scott blurts this out, Davis and their three daughters start to see a different side of dear old daddy.
You get to view quite a few scenes of close-up dental work (both Scott and Davis are dentists) and lots of scenes of people throwing up from the flu. In the annals of filmdom, I believe “The Secret Lives of Dentists” features the longest and most realistic depiction of a family fighting influenza, which strikes first Scott, then a child, then Davis, then a child, and then the last child (if I remember correctly.)
Through all this upchucking and “Daddy! Daddy! I need a glass of water!” Scott carries out his fatherly/husbandly duties admirably, though both Laurel and I expected that he would snap at any moment and massacre his entire family just to stop all the complaining. When Scott would show signs of stress I was uncomfortably reminded of my own shameful baby-shaking when my daughter, Celeste, was about 18 months old and wouldn’t stop crying no matter what I did during a three-hour stretch when her mother was out shopping. (See item #4 in my "30 Reasons for a Father Not to Have a Daughter” piece).
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As the movie was about over Laurel said, “Well, this sure makes me happy that I never had children.” I couldn’t argue with her. However, any parent knows that all the sleepless nights spent taking care of little ones become worth it when your child grows up, enters his or her teenage years, and keeps you awake all night when he or she takes the car without permission and doesn’t come home (oops, bad example…it becomes worth it at some later point, as I recall).
My favorite bit of dialogue in the movie came right at the start when Scott is examining his new patient, Leary. Scott says that he can see lots of problems in Leary’s mouth caused by poor previous dental work. “That’s what every dentist says,” Leary replies. “No dentist ever has anything good to say about what previous dentists have done. A year from now I’m going to be in some other chair listening to someone else tell me what a crappy job you did on my teeth.” This is exactly what Laurel and I have experienced.