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 … 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


as Dr. Frank Sangster

as Jean Noble

as Harlan Sangster

as Hip movie star [uncr...

as Wayne Ponze

as `Sunshine Lounge' Ba...

as Attractive Complaini...

as Mrs. Langston

as "Blue Sands" Bartend...

as Chinese Wife

as Chinese Husband

as Liquor Store Owner

as `Blue Sands' Bartend...

as Detective Lily Pons

as Motel Security Guard

as Motel Security Guard

as Anchorwoman

as Detective

as Officer Peter Reilly

as Officer Chuck Smith

as Skinny Sheriff

as Visiting Room Guard

as Court guard

as Trooper Jarvis

as Trooper Bunch
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Novocaine

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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.

| 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 (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Sylvester K (2 years ago)

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