Novocaine

Steve Martin plays a dentist who turns into a murder suspect and all-around neonoir victim when a sexy patient (Helena Bonham Carter) after the drugs he can prescribe lures him away from his fiancee (Laura Dern). Much as I like most of the actors here (who also include Scott Caan, Elias Koteas, and an uncredited Kevin Bacon), the script and story (by Paul Felopulos and director David Atkins) treat the characters with the sort of amused contempt I associate with the Coen brothers, but without the Coens' cleverness. There's a mechanical desire to work in as many outlandish twists as possible, and shallow grotesquerie quickly takes over. 95 min.

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