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Thursday, September 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 23

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Need an enjoyable, laid-back date movie? Mumford's the word

Mumford

Starring: Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee

Running Time: 111 minutes

Rating: R

Grade: C+

By Aron Anderson
Daily Cougar Staff

If you're on a quest for a movie in the realm of thought provoking, or uproariously funny entertainment, then continue on your trek. Because adjectives such as these would be slightly inaccurate in describing Paramount's newest: Mumford.

But for those of you simply wanting light-hearted enjoyment, provided by a quirky panoply of characters in a small-town setting, then this well acted comedy with a creative twist will end your search.

Written, directed and produced by Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill), the movie focuses on the lives of the residents in the all-American town of Mumford.

With a couple of exceptions, these characters share a common tie; their appreciation for the town's new psychologist who, peculiarly enough, is named Mumford. The lead role is charismatically played by Loren Dean, who might be remembered from his much less notable role in Gattaca.

Dr. Mumford quickly establishes bonds with various patients, which transgresses simple counseling and manifests into camaraderie and even romance.

Due to an inherent affability, Mumford, who is quickly revealed to the audience as a fraudulent psychologist, effortlessly eases the troubles of his patients/friends by using most unconventional means.

The movie creatively begins in one of the patients' fantasies and gets more interesting from there. The gradual introduction of characters is suggestive of some very interesting, perhaps even hilarious scenes to come.

Yet somehow this never quite seems to happen. Although quality acting does keep the movie good, it seems to plateau at that. The plot is engaging, yet at no point in the movie would the viewer be forced to leave a state of relaxation.

If one thing deserves extra recognition with this pleasant movie it is the job of the cast. Where the plot may fall short of evoking strong feelings, the acting keeps things enjoyable.

Although Dean's screen presence prevails, the movie is kept appreciable through well- acted dialogues with Lee (the town's billionaire), who is plainly seeking sincere camaraderie, and Hope Davis playing Sofie Crisp, a young divorcee suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In fact, some actors may leave the viewer wishing that their characters were further developed so that more of the movie could have benefited from their presence.

Depending on your tolerance for Hollywood schmaltsiness and a slightly blah climax, for some, this movie may still be a hit.

It could definitely be recommended for a night out with the family, perhaps even as a safe date movie. But if your sole motive is breathtaking laughter or captivating drama then look on, because Mumford falls slightly short.


 
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