The Secret Lives of Dentists - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Secret Lives of Dentists Reviews

Page 1 of 6
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2012
Not too popular on the fan metre but I actually enjoyed this film.There is a nice natural feel to the characters brimming with honesty.
½ July 6, 2007
Campbell Scott looks like a rapist when he has a mustache. However he and Hope Davis are great together (acting opposite one another)
October 1, 2007
One of a very large stack of movies I picked up because it was cheap and reviews were pretty good to good. I knew essentially nothing about this film when I picked it up, saw that Denis Leary was a supporting actor, figured they were blowing his role up, and it was at most five minutes, but the reviews were good anyway, so I'd just use that as an anchor.

Essentially, this is a little dramedy about two dentists, Dana (Robin Tunney) and Dave (Campbell Scott), who are married with three children, Leah, Stephanie and Elizabeth. It starts off with Dave doing a voiceover about the longevity of teeth, saying that death, fire, acidic soil and so on do little to them, and that what destroys them is life. We see that he's working on patient Slater (Denis Leary) who constantly complains about prices of dentistry and contradiction between multiple dentists in terms of the quality of work and the like, and how he doesn't want it to cost much because in five years someone else will simply tell him it was bad work and he'll need to get it replaced. We then see Dana in the next office, listening to opera and espousing the quality of it, then at home, she continues, and is almost ignored as she tries to sing her favourite part and Dave is trying to get their daughters to behave at the dinner table. Next we see them dropping Leah, the youngest, with a babysitter, lying about whether she will stop screaming, "Daddy!" so that they can go to Dana's performance.

There, Dave goes into the dressing room to give Dana their daughter's rabbit's foot for luck, and he happens to catch her with another man, caressing her face and kissing her. Nothing explicit or clear, but enough that Dave's mind starts running. From here we spend half the movie in Dave's head. Throughout her entire performance--between glares from Slater, angry at him for failed dental work--Dave remembers the life he has had with her, all of the good times, with her pregnant, making love, bouncing their first child, pulling her first tooth, and especially bicycling down a hill with her on the handlebars.

From now on, almost every time we see Slater, he is simply a part of Dave's mind, something like an id, but occasionally a surprising voice of reason. He points out Dave's occasional role as "mommy" of the family and encourages him to say and ask the things most people always think of saying and asking and then immediately think better of. He encourages and discusses and dissects Dave's paranoia about Dana's (possible?) affair, and eggs him on to ask her about it, or to consider whether there is such a thing, and pushes him to angry reactions to smaller things, when he's vulnerable from the stress under which the thought of this affair is putting him.

The whole film is essentially about her wanting to tell him and him refusing to let her, because he thinks that will let things work out for the best--"If she loves him, then we have to do something." Robin Tunney is excellent in her part as the wife we see almost purely through Dave's eyes, not coloured by that, but the only events and reactions we see, by and large, are external. We don't know for sure whether she's having an affair, nor why she would be, because we see things from his point of view. We aren't set against her (despite Slater constantly suggesting outrageous things like killing her) and we feel some sympathy when we see some of her reactions, but Dave's lack of response due to his own problems is just and familiar, and while we may fault him for not addressing it directly, and for letting himself be so pessimistic and suspicious, we see why this occurs to. So, we have very little image of Dana on the whole, but Robin manages to convey the fact that there is a human being there just as much as there is in Dave, even though we don't see into her head.

Campbell Scott was absolutely perfect for the role of Dave, as low-key, laidback dentist who really loves his family and puts everything into it, constantly trying to teach things to his daughters and respect them, while occasionally spoiling them too. He has a very standard moustache--which apparently he grew out as a dentist, which seems odd to me, but oh well--that is absolutley perfect for this character. He constantly seems completely sympathetic, but more importantly human. We don't always agree with his choices, but we don't see him as inhuman, emotionless, cruel or evil for any of it. We know why he does everything, because we've been there. Which is one of the great things about this movie--it feels like the way life can work. No terribly earth-shattering events, though you can get that feeling on occasion, because it doesn't take an actual earth-shattering event to SEEM like an earth-shattering event in someone's life.

We also get, through Dave's mind, the more absurd things he thinks about and imagines, trying to puzzle out who, how and where Dana is having an affair, often by re-writing scenes we've seen, or occasionally re-writing them to get a happy ending for himself. They're all quite entertaining and feel like the way I, at least, tend to think of things.

Best imagined scene by far: Dave ponders how one kicks someone out of the house.
½ March 4, 2007
I love Campbell Scott but damn - this could not have been any less interesting. Dentists apparently have really dull lives.
½ November 23, 2010
WOW, this movie just reaches right off of the screen and grabs you by the heart. Dennis Leary is his typical Asshole self, while Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, have delight full roles that they fill with passion.
The directing by Alan Rudolph, of the movie was fantastic, however, I was a litte confused on if Slater ever actually existed/when he was real and when he was only in David Hurst's head.

All around it provides an emotional heartfelt movie that, that delves into a subject that like David, not many of us want to talk about.
October 22, 2010
For Fans Of: Maritial Drama, Hope Davis, Denis Leary
Date Night: Nope
Art Factor: Low
Fun Factor: Low
Emotional Factor: Low
Intelligence Required: Low
Essential Viewing: No

Let's get the good stuff about this flick out of the way first. The acting is pretty good in this one. Hope Davis always comes through on anything she appears in so that wasn't a big shock. Denis Leary is kind of like the drunken American-Irish equal of Russell Brand, funny, but very one note. Nothing changes here. Campbell Scott, the "other lead" is one of those guys that you always recognize, but will never bother to learn his name. You all know the type. Good actor, just not memorable enough to remember his name. Oh, the kids in the film, annoying as hell, were good at it. Ok, lets get down to brass tacks. The movie looks awful. The direction and shot selections remind me of a lifetime movie, the kind my mother loves to watch on Sundays. I mean, poor lighting, bad angles, you name it, it happens. The script starts out really edgy and creative, and then ploop, goes right in the shitter. Leary switches roles half way through the movie and starts playing a broke ass version of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt from Fight Club). The movie just turns into one big long dentist pity party with a shit resolution. There was massive potential here. Good cast, creative and original idea, but the follow through just kind of went limp. My advice is to probably avoid unless you just have a love for one of the leads or you love the Lifetime movie network.
½ October 20, 2006
Here's another film rating.
January 29, 2006
Okay - its a well made quality film but what is it with reviewers, synopsis writers etc calling dark, depressing films comic? Especially romantic comedy. I scoured the reviews and synopsis to see if there is some code for 'comic if you have a really really odd sense of humor" and I couldn't see it. Romantic comedy, to me, is Bridget Jones Diary. Light, entertaining. This was not that - and NOT a romantic comedy!
½ December 20, 2005
I didnt think it was that great. It started to not make sense to me when they all got sick. and dennis leary was pissing me off in the movie. fuck.
July 13, 2005
(OK, so that is a song lyric from [I]Little Shop of Horrors[/I] that has almost nothing to do with this movie except the dentist part. Whatever.)

I usually enjoy movies that don't have huge amounts of plot but instead just focus in on what is going on in people's lives, letting the viewer really get to know the characters and how they are in everyday life. Sometimes, if they're not done well, they can be slow or boring, and I have definitely seen movies like that. But fortunately, [I]The Secret Lives of Dentists[/I] is not one of these movies. Although very little "happens", it kept me fascinated throughout by the incredibly realistic depiction of family life and the two exceptional lead performances by Campbell Scott and Hope Davis.

Dave and Dana Hurst are husband and wife and are also both great dentists who share a practice. They have three young daughters, and their home life is unexciting but pleasant, until one day Dave sees an unknown man kissing his wife. He can't tell who the man is, or how intense the kiss is, but his suspicions are sparked. His relationship with his wife grows strained. He starts having visions of a troublesome patient (Denis Leary) giving him advice everywhere he goes.

This is all that really happens. The questions of whether Dana is having an affair and who with are resolved, in an absolutely perfect manner, at the end of the film, but that's not really the point of the movie. It is just a portrait of a normal family going through a rough period. The movie's depiction of a troubled marriage is possibly the best I've ever seen. Campbell Scott gives a quiet and subdued performance as Dave, a nice guy who doesn't want to confront his wife or even make assumptions about her actions but whose fantasies quickly get out of control. Hope Davis is equally brilliant as Dana, making her into a believable and sympathetic character even as we suspect that she is betraying her likable husband (I can't wait to see Davis in her two upcoming movies, [I]Proof[/I] and [I]The Weather Man[/I]). Crucial to the success of the movie is that the family seems normal, and it does. The little kids aren't overly cute and precocious like in many movies, nor are they obnoxious brats. They are just little kids doing what little kids do.

I agree with Roger Ebert, who says that he actually would have preferred the movie without the Denis Leary character appearing everywhere in Dave's mind. It seems too much like an excuse to explain Dave's thoughts to us (through the dialogue between him and imaginary Denis Leary). We don't need to hear his thoughts, Scott's acting is more than good enough to let us in on what he is thinking. It seems like the director didn't think enough was going on without that character, but since what I loved about the movie was its almost documentary-like look at marriage and family (the scenes where the whole family gets the flu are especially brilliant), this added an unwelcome layer of fantasy and, worse, thriller to the movie (when Leary urges Scott to kill his wife).

Oh, and this has nothing to do with the movie, but I love Blockbuster for their 3 for $25 sale. [I]Bad Education[/I], [I]Before Sunset[/I], and [I]Eternal Sunshine[/I] are mine!
½ July 11, 2005
[i]The Secret Lives of Dentists [/i]is a rather cynical look at marriage. Directed by Alan Rudolph, the film stars Campbell Scott and Hope Davis as David and Dana Hurst, married dentists sharing a practice. On the surface they seem like the typical upper middle class couple with successful careers, a nice home, and three young daughters. However all is not as it seems when David suspects Dana is cheating on him. Enter disgruntled patient Slater (Denis Leary) who shows up out of nowhere to give David advice, invisible to everyone but David, and you have the makings of a nice, dark comedy. First you have to care about these characters, and that's one of the problems with [i]The Secret Lives of Dentists. [/i]Other than the daughters I didn't care much about any of these people. Nor did I buy the relationship between David and Slater. How could two people who despised one another at the onset become confidants? My other problem with this film was it's lack of resolution in the end. Maybe it was the whole point, but it ended up leaving me empty. Overall the film didn't work for me even though I will acknowledge Scott's fine performance.
April 15, 2005
After watching this on DVD, I thought that if I had had to pay $10 to watch this, I would have hunted down the producer, strapped him into a dental chair at gunpoint, and pulled out all of his teeth with pliers.
½ September 29, 2004
Adam (TOC) is thinking of going to Emerson for his MFA when he's done getting his undergrad.

Emerson is where I'm applying to for January Term.

Thinking of meeting him, and then going to school with him?

Crazy. .. .

but so incredibly crazy that it makes me smile.

I still cannot believe this.
Granted, he and I even going there isn't secured.

But what if ?

At work, there was a cheap package of Men's rib tanks on super sale.
I picked them up, since they were a small size.
They're the most comfortable tanks in the world.
A little long, sure.
But the cut is good as well.

The Secret Lives of Dentists throws you into the movie and doesn't explain much,
but there is no need to . It's true, honest, and really interesting.
Can't help but feel for Campbell Scott.
He had three girls nagging him for an hour and forty minutes.

I can only imagine what it was like for my parents with me and my two older sisters.
All of us being almost the same ages apart as the young girls in the film.


Surprisingly, despite my hang ups and freak out sessions lately,
I got an A- in class for my second field notes.
The first was a easy B, I'll admit.
Didn't pay so much attention,
and on the second time around, I did.

Even though [b]The Build-Up[/b] doesn't have the clingy loving lyrics that I love usually,
it has the music and vocality that I just adore.
Definitely one of the best songs I've ever heard.
½ September 7, 2004
[b]The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)[/b]
Strange film. Hope Davis and Campbell Scott are two dentists who are married and also share a practice. And they have three young and very demanding daughters. At the start of the film, the wife, Dana, has been singing in the chorus of a community opera group. But rehearsals aren't the only thing creating a distance between her and the rest of the family. Her husband Dave sees her sharing an intimate moment with another man. Dave loves his wife and is a devoted father, and the one parent who the kids can depend on to take care of them. Although he loves Dana, he won't talk to her. The one time she tries to talk to him, he pretends to be asleep. He is too afraid of what she might say. There is an episode when the family's gone to spend a weekend at their cabin in the woods. Dave spends his time running one noisy gardening tool after another because he's afraid Dana plans to confess her affair and he doesn't want to give her a chance to talk. We know what Dave is thinking and fantaszing about because he has the personification of his subconscious to talk to. This figure is present in the form of a recent patient (Dennis Leary) who turned out to be the patient from hell. As long as Dave is going through this crisis, this guy is present. It's a bizarre bit of unreality that gets old after a while. The performances from Campbell Scott, Hope Davis and Dennis Leary are pretty good, but the children are really annoying. Watching it I became frustrated with both the husband and wife, and ultimately found the movie to be rather tedious, a little depressing and overall disappointing.

[b]The Statement (2003)[/b]
I can't blame the actors for this film not being more successful. The strong cast, headed by Michael Caine, does what it can with a script that seems to lack focus. Caine is an aging former Nazi collaborator who is still being hunted nearly fifty years after the war. The most interesting aspect to his flight for his life is the way he repeatedly turns to supporters in the Catholic church to help save his life while he can't seem to find the spiritual means to ablsolve the guilt that plagues him. This internal struggle is pushed to the background while the script moves back and forth between the police investigation of those pursuing Caine's character, his movements as he flees from one monastery to another, and a murky present-day government plot that also aims to do him in, though why and who benefits is never clear.
June 17, 2004
The Secret Lives Of Dentists is one of those films that will be revered by those who like to exercise their brain cells and despised by those who want their movies spoon-fed to them. Examining a marriage in crisis, The Secret Lives of Dentists is a subtle, moving, and often funny film about a man struggling with himself as he confronts the possible infidelity of his wife.

Hope Davis and Campbell Scott are David and Dana Hurst, successful dentists with a combined practice and a firm grasp on the American dream. When David observes Dana in the arms of another man, he assumes infidelity and begins to question everything he believed about his 10-year marriage. Rather than confront Dana with what he saw, he remains stoically determined to continue the status quo, hoping that Dana will work out whatever she?s going through and recommit to the marriage. He begins to process his repressed emotions in the form of one of his patients, a surly and cynical fellow who pops in and out of scenes, urging David to say what it is he feels.

The conflict between this couple is scripted so subtly many viewers might overlook it. We are given little information as to how this couple ended up where they are, but the journey is less important than knowing that they have arrived. What matters to the film is this moment, this point in time where decisions must be made and choices carefully evaluated ? the point where a marriage and family are on the line. A point where there are hard questions and no easy answers. It is a story that is wonderfully scripted and rang true to me on every level based on my own similar experiences.

What I found most enjoyable about this film was the level of commitment the characters have to staying together. In an age where marriage is viewed as a disposable commodity, it was extremely refreshing to watch David fight for his.

Scott is fantastic. His is a delicate performance, restrained yet powerfully moving in his determination to stand by his family and work through his pain. Scott captures the fear, anger, and hope of his character perfectly. Davis, too, is wonderful. Although her motives are never quite understood, she convincingly portrays a woman unhappy with her life and desperate to close the growing gap between them. Denis Leary is the Harvey-like voice of unreason and frequently lightens the darker tone of the film with his wry, and often humorous, observations of human behavior.

The Secret Lives of Dentists is available on DVD in 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Bonus features include Sundance Channel?s always fascinating ?Anatomy of a Scene? which examines a key scene from different perspectives such as wardrobe, cinematography, and music; 3 deleted scenes; a blooper reel; full-length feature commentary from the director and cast; and several trailers.

The Secret Lives of Dentists is a touching, and frequently funny, film that, despite its premise, celebrates the institution of marriage rather than trivializing it.
½ April 3, 2004
The movie starts off strong as a study of a family in crisis but ends in a wimper. Not much is really resolved and at times you almost don't care. Campbell Scott is great and the movie is well acted but in general the story limps to a conclusion. A very avarage film.
½ March 22, 2004
The Secret Lives of Dentist is a rather obscure film, one that i would probably have missed if not for its good ratings on RT. With a name that is such a mouthful, u can't exactly balme me. But lest you start thinking that the movie in about dentistry or heaven forbid, a lecture on oral hygiene, its actually neither. It is in fact a movie about the rapidly crumbling relationship of a family of dentists. The husband thinks that the wife is having and affair, and the wife on th other hand is increasingly annoyed by the emotional disconnection between her and one of her daughters who increasingly becomes clingy to the father. The directing here is of particular mention, with cool cutscenes, and poignant meditative moments. Backed by a rocking soundtrack and peppered with moments of humor, this is one dentist film you won't want to miss.

A Bug's Life and Antz are two ant based animations. While Antz is more anatomically accurate in its portrayal of ants and visually better, in my opinion, it is A Bug's Life that has a more energetic and funny pace and is overall more engrossing. Both movies are however nothing groundbreaking or spectacular and serve as adequate entertainment for the whole family.
½ March 3, 2004
Films between February 15, 2004 - February 18, 2004.
February 17, 2004
[b][u]Azumi:[/u][/b] Director of Versus tries the formula again, but it doesnt quite work. Hip young warriors are trained to be killing machines. After the first 10 minutes it takes a wrong path and never comes back. It has its fun moments, some memoreable characters as well as villians, but it just didnt work as a whole.

[b][u]Secret Lives of Dentists:[/u][/b] Again a movie in which a story is not really told, but you are rather dropped in the lives of the characters. The problem is, the characters are not fun, and their lives are rather uninteresting despite the deep problems that they have. Good performances from Leary and Scott.

[b][u]The house of Sand and Fog:[/u][/b] Good performance by Kingsley, who is a god among actors. Other than that, very boring movie. I had no simpathy for Connelly's character so her performance fell flat. And I still dont get what's the criteria for nominating a best supporting actor/actress. Shohreh Aghdashloo did a very underwhelming job as the wife. Just because she cries and cant speak english does not make it a good performance.
Page 1 of 6