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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Damaged Care (2002)

Damaged Care (2002)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 109:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Harry Winer
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Laura Dern
James LeGros
Suki Kaiser
Michelle Clunie
Adam Arkin
Regina King
Diane Ladd
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Bruce Broughton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Many, many years ago, I saw a documentary called Kentucky Fried Medicine, about the North American health care system. I remember being shocked, bemused and scared witless by its portrayal of the class system of "user pays" that resulted in business brokers deciding who would or would not receive treatment, and at what level, determined by the patients' capacity to pay. It was with that memory in mind that I opted to review Damaged Care, looking for further insights into this system. I had heard of Linda Peeno and had been impressed by her eloquent, to-the-point manner, and had hoped to find further insight into this remarkable woman and the system she took on so bravely.

     In checking to see who played Peeno, I discovered it to be Laura Dern - an actor of ineffable wit, warmth and intelligence. Ah, and there's Adam Arkin in the script - have you ever seen him make a wrong move? So - let's sum up.. great story, good actors, the chance to learn a little cultural's a dead cert to be a quality product. Right? WRONG!!! This is limp, lazy and lugubrious viewing that schmaltzes away a fantastic opportunity to tell a dramatic story.

     To be fair to Mr Arkin, he did his best. To discover that Ms Dern was a co-producer increases her implication in the crime. The first trouble is the writing which portrays goodies and baddies in such a banal manner that all they're missing are black or white hats. The real story is there, lurking behind the sentiment. Linda Peeno was a director of a couple of HMOs (acronym for "health maintenance organisation" - or, as one wag put it:
      Q. What does HMO stand for?
      A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, "Hey, Moe!" Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Doctor Moe Howard, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget about the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eyes.

     With her medical background, and allegiance to the Hippocratic oath, Peeno found it progressively more difficult to ignore the atrocities being doled out to patients in the name of financial expediency for the insuring companies. Over time, she found herself a campaigner against the practices of these companies, finally becoming a vocal figurehead for social change, challenging the injustices inherent in the system. This is a noble and interesting story. It's just handled god-awfully.

      The script is the worst offender. It is lazy, clichéd to the hilt and monodimensional. The attempts to "humanise" Peeno fall horribly wrong and just distract away from the real potential for drama in the story. It is sensationalised balderdash that fails miserably in finding the real drama that was so eminently available in the facts. Perhaps it has some relevance to the American market. It had the potential to be a story that transcended borders. The disparity between the scripted lines and soliloquies for Peeno and those pieces of dialogue that were obviously lifted directly from transcripts was so marked that I felt a squirming embarrassment for the real life Peeno, feeling that it may have been excruciating for her to have had to watch this drivelly mess.

      This made for TV film is a seminal lesson on how to stuff up a genuinely compelling true story, and turn it into syrupy mush. What a missed opportunity. What a shame.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented at 1.33:1, which is true to its TV origins.

     It is actually a nice crisp print overall, with nice bright pictures. There is minimal low level noise and plenty of detail in the shadows. There is little graininess in evidence and the pictures pop right out of the screen.

     The colours are rather lovely, with a full and punchy palette on display. All colours hold together cleanly and skin tones are excellent without exception.

     There is only the most minimal evidence of aliasing, and the transfer is of good visual quality overall. I saw some compression problems which resulted in momentary loss of definition, but I've seen plenty of discs that are more offensive on that score.

     There are no subtitles available on this disc.

     This is a single layered disc with no layer change with which to contend.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Now the audio is not so great.

     There are two audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the English track, and it was uninspiring fare.

     The dialogue was clear enough but the sound overall was flat and nondirectional. There were also variations in the volume of the source audio, leading to fluctuations in the degree of sound that was available. Additionally, there were pops and distortions audible in the source. The audio sync was not bad, but not perfect either - lagging slightly behind the lip movement.

     The musical score by Bruce Broughton was a pedestrian affair, with strings coming in where you'd expect a string to come in, here's the little piano ditty - ho hum.

     Neither the surround speakers nor the subwoofer had any work to do, and are consequently getting quite flabby.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras on this disc.


     The menu is static and silent and simple to use, given that there's nowhere really to go.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This disc appears to offer the same as the R1, so if you feel so inclined to purchase it, you won't need to go any further than R4.


     Flabby, flaccid and pale, it is a shame to see such a potentially riveting true story go to waste like this. The transfer's okay, and it may have some resonance for US viewers, but it translates poorly because of a predictable and clichéd script. Peeno's story deserves to be told - as her struggle is to protect many helpless victims of the American medical system. This film could have served as a potent warning to us about where our own system may take us. Instead, it presents as a limp and sickly telemovie. We may as well extubate - this pup's a goner.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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