Mumford
*** GM
Starring: Loren Dean, Ted Danson, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard, Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee, Martin Short

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I despise it when I see these generic movie critic terms like 'quirky' to describe any film that doesn't fit a specific mold. So many movie critics rail against the traditional Hollywood movie, and then throw down the same adjectives to describe every movie that comes down the pike. So I'm not going to call this film 'quirky.'

"Mumford" is odd. It's somewhat original, but not enough to stave off some predictability. It is, however, entertaining, amusing and worth seeing. Loren Dean stars as Doc Mumford, a guy who comes to a town called Mumford and starts a practice as a psychologist just because he's a good listener, and not because he's accredited by anyone. Everyone in the town comes to him for help, and his practice is more popular than the town's other two therapists, who happen to be licensed. We've got Althea, the housewife addicted to catalogs, Skip, the lonely young billionaire, Nessa, a troubled teenager obsessed with magazine models, Henry, the pharmacist who can't stop fantasizing in smutty vintage noir overtones, and Sofie, the big city gal who moves back home after succumbing to chronic fatigue syndrome. He even manages to help his neighbor Lily (Alfre Woodard), who isn't really looking for his help. When a lawyer named Lionel (Martin Short) gets turned away for being a jerk, he allies with the other therapists to try to bring him down.

Dean seems to have come from the Duchovny School of Almost Actually Acting, but he manages just enough charisma to keep things together. Short is always amusing, and he makes as much as he can of his small role. Hope Davis manages enough appeal as Sofie, who eventually becomes Mumford's love interest. Jason Lee is pretty cool, as usual, as Skip, and Zooey Deschanel deserves mention as Nessa just because her name is cool, but she gives an interesting performance, too.

I can see licensed therapists all over the world getting really pissy about how this movie 'cheapens and degrades the profession of psychology by suggesting any uneducated man off the street can handle such delicate matters of the human mind.' My general opinion is that a good deal of therapy is horsepucky, and a lot of self-centered trendy idiots simply want an excuse to talk about themselves for a hour or so (although I can definitely see its value in some cases). But this film puts forth the idea that a man can make money simply by listening to people. So many people in this country are so insular and unwilling to give a flying fuck about anyone else that a nice guy willing to just let people jabber at him for an hour every few days could probably really rake it in. I have no doubt that this is true. I'd do it, but I don't have the patience.

The ensemble nature of the film doesn't let everyone shine as much as they could, but they did manage to make a funny film.

Oh yeah, and Ted Danson says 'motherfucker.'

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