Mumford Review

Mumford reminded me how nice it is to forget yourself in the midst of a good story - Lawrence Kasdan's (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) latest charm will keep you grinning. Speaking of smiles (and tangents), this is a great film for anyone who likes to look at mouths; I haven't seen so many close-ups of teeth and gums since the last time I went to the dentist!

Loren Dean (Enemy of the State, Apollo 13) does a decent job as Dr. Mumford, the most popular psychologist in the small town to which he just moved. Listening attentively to the tormented visitors of the treatment couch, his apparent peace of mind and even temper become infectious. Ubiquitously available and sounding less like a shrink than a wise uncle who gives just enough advice at just the right time, it's no wonder Dr. Mumford is everyone's favorite confidant. But will those he's helped to see through their own faults be just as understanding if they find out the truth of his past?

Mumford is engaging because the characters and dialogue provide a delicate blend of realism and entertainment. The cast deserves praise for its generally beautiful delivery of Kasdan's examination of the human condition. There's a pharmacist (Pruitt Taylor Vince - Heavy, Nobody's Fool) whose obsession with sexual fantasy cost him his marriage, a high school girl (Zooey Deschanel in a commendable debut) struggling to find an identity not dependent on fashion magazines, and a neglected wife (Mary McDonnell - Grand Canyon, Dances With Wolves) that buries her need for attention in mail-order purchases. Skip Skipperton (Jason Lee - Enemy of the State, Chasing Amy) is perfect as the twenty-something billionaire founder of Panda Modem whose status keeps him disconnected from the companionship he craves.. Hope Davis (Next Stop Wonderland, The Daytrippers), plays Sofie Crisp, chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer/ethical dilemma as the object of Dr. Mumford's intense affection. Dana Ivey gets the Brillo award for her portrayal as Sofie's viciously abrasive mother. Ted Danson's egomaniacal investment banker cameo is worth a couple of good laughs, and Martin Short offers a hilarious performance as a lawyer with a superiority complex the size of Clinton's sex drive.

Nothing wildly original or profound happens, but Mumford manages just enough edge and comedy to stomach its essentially warm fuzziness. The adult content in the film (nudity, language) could have easily been omitted and felt contrived to elicit an R rating, but all in all, this was quite an enjoyable experience.

Hope sinks.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th September 1999

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures

Reviews 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 34

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Mumford, as Sofie Crisp, as Skip Skipperton, as Lily, as Nessa Watkins, as Althea Brockett, as Henry Follett, as Lionel Dillard, as Dr. Ernest Delbanco, as Dr. Phyllis Sheeler, as Mrs. Crisp, as Mr. Crisp, as Jeremy Brockett, as Katie Brockett, as Himself, as Martin Brockett