Novocaine (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

Novocaine (2001)



Critic Consensus: The quirky Novocaine flirts with both dark comedy and noir suspense, but the result is a jarring mix of tones which never quite mesh.

Movie Info

In this darkly comic film noir from writer/director David Atkins, Steve Martin revisits dentistry -- an occupation he'd explored 15 years prior, in the camp musical Little Shop of Horrors. Novocaine casts Martin as a much more mild-mannered D.D.S., Dr. Frank Sangster. Engaged to a prim and delicate hygienist, Jean (Laura Dern), Sangster leads a placid, upper-middle class existence, save for the occasional visit from his deadbeat artist brother Harlan (Elias Koteas). But Sangster finds his life turned inside out from the moment the alluring Susan (Helena Bonham Carter) plops down in his reclining vinyl chair: Complaining about her molars, she's really more interested in the refrigerator of narcotics the good dentist keeps on hand for his patients in pain. Once they manage to get Sangster's guard down, Susan and her brother (Scott Caan) rob him blind -- and worse yet, frame him for the theft. When a dead body turns up in Sangster's sleek suburban home, he finds that clearing his name will be a difficult proposition indeed. Novocaine marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Atkins, who first made his mark with the script for Emir Kusturica's oddball cult favorite Arizona Dream (1993).more
Rating: R (for violence, sexuality, language and drug content)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: David Atkins
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 23, 2002
Box Office: $1.5M
Artisan Entertainment - Official Site


Steve Martin
as Dr. Frank Sangster
Laura Dern
as Jean Noble
Elias Koteas
as Harlan Sangster
Kevin Bacon
as Hip movie star [uncr...
Jobe Cerny
as Wayne Ponze
Yasen Peyankov
as `Sunshine Lounge' Ba...
Teri Cotruzzola
as Attractive Complaini...
Lucina Paquet
as Mrs. Langston
Rom Milanovich
as "Blue Sands" Bartend...
Sally Kao
as Chinese Wife
Quincy Wong
as Chinese Husband
George Lugg
as Liquor Store Owner
Tom Milanovich
as `Blue Sands' Bartend...
Karol Kent
as Detective Lily Pons
Eddie Bo Smith Jr.
as Motel Security Guard
Eddie B. Smith
as Motel Security Guard
Mary Ann Childers
as Anchorwoman
Rich Komenich
as Detective
Joe Kasala
as Officer Peter Reilly
Eric Lane
as Officer Chuck Smith
Roy Hytower
as Skinny Sheriff
Kwame Amoaku
as Visiting Room Guard
Christian Stolte
as Court guard
Len Bajenski
as Trooper Jarvis
Mindy Suzanne Bell
as Trooper Bunch
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Novocaine

Critic Reviews for Novocaine

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (33)

The casting is peculiar, the tone is off, the plot is uninteresting and the ending is sorry.

Full Review… | December 28, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Plays like the sort of silly shared fantasy that a group of dental students might come up with late one night, after too much coffee and cramming for finals.

December 27, 2001
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

This movie was not effective.

Full Review… | November 27, 2001
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

A coarse, witless and stunningly violent black comedy.

November 24, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic

This dark, stylish tale isn't for kids.

Full Review… | December 26, 2010
Common Sense Media

It is entertaining enough to arouse imagination of post-Tarantino audience.

Full Review… | March 18, 2005

Audience Reviews for Novocaine


Martin took a chance in being in this little known, little seen, conspiracy thriller. It has an interesting concept and the plot is definitely worth following, but the ultimate villain isn't all that impressive or frightening. What makes this film especially unseemly has to be its reliance on black humor, which comes off less funny and more grotesque. There's this scene near the end that is so disgusting and gross that I don't even want to think about it, and that quickly veers it away from being interesting gumshoe mystery and into weird existential quandary. If the ending were a little less slovenly this film would probably be lauded for its intricate story and the great performance from Helena Bonham Carter as the drug dealer's (Caan) sister and the seductress of the dentist (Martin). Martin feels misplaced in the film, mostly because we're used to either subdued serious performances or out of control wackiness in comedies. It's just a little too all over the place to make it as memorable as it should be.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


This has been a quite entertaining movie. Not really a top notch movie, not really working as a comedy, but still pretty entertaining. It started out veeery slow and boooring - it took a little too long for it to evolve. But when it started to it got better and better. There's that very freaky story and a wrecked Bonham-Carter (she's good playin such characters ;-) adding most to this film. However the ending was a little too fantastic since it shouldn't be a problem for the forensics to ... no, I won't spoil hehe.

My favourite scene was Martin's call where he spoke to that guy who answered the phone with "barbie's bakery. it's mr. muffin man speakin." LOL

My overall rating is: 6.5/10 - if you're not sure what to watch, try this one. It works pretty well as entertainment

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

While I'm not going to say I'd defend this movie to the death, I will say that if you like Steve Martin, you might be willing to see everything he tries. This like, say, The Spanish Prisoner , is something different for Martin, and while it is not an entirely successful movie, it is not unwatchable. Big points to Carter and Laura Dern for enhancing the experience with memorable characters. The ending is a bit much, it's true, but the story of lies compiling and coming back to bite you is told in an unusual, sometimes surprising and sometimes entertaining way.

Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

Novocaine Quotes

– Submitted by Sylvester K (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Sylvester K (3 years ago)

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