Screenwriter David Atkins (ARIZONA DREAM) makes his directorial debut with the black comedy NOVOCAINE. Frank Sangster (Steve Martin), a nice-guy dentist with a thriving practice, shares his perfectly ordered, successful life with his cheerily plastic hygienist-fiancée, Jean (Laura Dern). Frank's structured world is suddenly flipped upside down when his good-for-nothing brother, Harlan (Elias Koteas), comes to town and a dangerously attractive drug-seeking patient, Susan (Helena Bonham-Carter), shows up in his office. When Susan absconds with the office's narcotics supply, Frank is too smitten by her bad-girl beauty to turn her into the DEA. Instead, he constructs a web of lies, carelessly jeopardizing his practice and future marriage, just to see the femme fatale again. Frank's troubles multiply when Susan's violent junkie brother, Duane (Scott Caan), discovers the budding dentist-patient relationship and Susan wishes aloud that Duane would just "disappear." Atkins' absurdist take on the time-honored conventions of film noir features strong performances, particularly from Dern as the intensely chipper Jean, and from Kevin Bacon in a wry cameo. The gruesome finale can take its place alongside MARATHON MAN in the annals of cinematic dental horror.
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