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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.
The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)

The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)

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Released 24-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Emile, The Other Side Of The Bed, Tais Toi!
Trailer-A Tale Of A Naughty Girl, The Corporation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 104:06
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alan Rudolph
Hole Digger Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Campbell Scott
Denis Leary
Robin Tunney
Peter Samuel
Hope Davis
Jon Patrick Walker
Gianna Beleno
Lydia Jordan
Cassidy Hinkle
Adele D'Man
Kathleen Kinhan
Sara Lerch
Lori Mirabal
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Gary DeMichele
Lou Reed

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Secret Lives of Dentists is an intelligent, humorous and moving drama about the complex nature of human relationships within a marriage.

    The film relies heavily on its performances, realistic direction from Alan Rudolph, and a powerful, yet witty screenplay by Craig Lucas. Lucas has written a screenplay that feels very real in terms of dialogue. This reality is broken by the introduction of an alter ego character, which provides most of the film's lighter moments. The film is based on the Jane Smiley novella The Age of Grief.

    Dr David Hurst (Campbell Scott), and his wife, Dr Dana Hurst (Hope Davis), are dentists who share a practice together. They also have a young family of three girls, Lizzie (Gianna Beleno), Stephanie (Lydia Jordan) and Leah (Cassidy Hinkle). Everything seems perfect in their lives; a happy marriage, lovely children, nice house and cars, but something is about to plant the seed of doubt in Dave's mind.

    Dana has a role in an opera for an amateur theatre company. Dave goes backstage to give her a rabbit's foot that their children insisted on her taking for luck. Amongst the chaos backstage, he believes he sees his wife in an intimate embrace with an unknown man. Aware he hasn't been seen by them, he slips back to his seat with the girls and sits stunned and perplexed by what he has just witnessed.

    Dave is jolted back to reality by one of his more difficult patients. Slater (Dennis Leary), is coincidentally sitting a couple of rows in front of Dave. Slater is a musician who lives life hard and is having marriage problems himself. He uses this moment to embarrass Dave in front of other audience members, with loud complaints over a filling that fell out. In time, it becomes clear that Dave has both fear and respect for Slater. Maybe he has elements to his personality that Dave longs to possess himself.

    In the coming days, Dave watches Dana's movements very closely and broods over his suspicions of her affair. His quiet and composed demeanour finally gives way to his imagination, in the form of an alter ego. Slater becomes Dave's mentor in coping with the stresses of a cheating wife and the constant demands of the children. Slater makes decisions and provides dialogue for Dave, like a leprechaun on his shoulder. Of course, all of this is in Dave's imagination and isn't seen by anyone else. These scenes provide the film with a nice balance of drama and humour, albeit a little on the dark side. They also give the film a bizarre, off-the-wall quality, separating it from a standard melodrama.

    The possibility of Dana's affair totally consumes Dave's life, even taking him to the edge of madness. It's a question that isn't answered in the film until the final scenes.

    I found The Secret Lives of Dentists to be a very thought-provoking film. It forces its audience to make judgments throughout the film as to Dave's reactions and decisions. There may be many different opinions regarding the film's climax.

    Performances in the film are all absolutely superb. Campbell Scott, Hope Davis and Denis Leary are all totally convincing in their roles, as are the three children in their very demanding roles.

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Transfer Quality


   The video transfer is of good quality, but does have a few minor issues.

   The film is presented on DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. I believe the original aspect ratio of the film is 1.85:1. There is a boom microphone visible at the very top of screen for a brief moment at 78:46. This suggests that the mattes have been opened slightly from the intended theatrical ratio.

    The transfer is sharp and clear for the most part. There are, however, moments when the video is a little soft, but nothing of any great consequence. There was some light grain evident at times, but this was also very minor. Blacks and shadows are excellent overall. I found no evidence of low level noise.

   I found the colours consistently well rendered throughout the film. All the colours appeared very natural, with no oversaturation.

   There are some compression artefacts present on the disc. Macro-blocking occurs very briefly at various scene changes. They are barely noticeable at normal viewing speeds, and you'll need to slow your player right down to actually see the artefacts. A couple of examples occur at 89:11 and 91:21. There was some annoying aliasing at times, some examples being at 30:15, 35:10 and 35:54. Edge enhancement was present at times on a minor scale, but was not a significant issue. There was also some moiré effect evident at 73:04, also only a minor distraction. Film artefacts were almost non-existent and weren't a distraction at all.

    The only subtitles available are in English. They are very accurate, yellow in colour, and are easily legible.

    This DVD is a single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at 46:40 and is quite poor. It is placed well in a dark moment between scenes, but causes a very noticeable stoppage in the soundtrack.

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


     The audio transfer is quite impressive.

    There are two audio tracks available on the DVD. They are; English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I listened to both soundtracks.

    Dialogue quality was excellent throughout. I had no problems understanding any of the dialogue, even in some of the quieter moments. Audio sync was also good throughout.

    The original music is credited to Gary DeMichele. Apart from the title music, which is a little bizarre, the music was easy listening and complemented the action on screen without overpowering it. Other artists' music is also used in the soundtrack. The music of Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley and The The is incorporated into the soundtrack.

    The Secret Lives of Dentists is very much a dialogue-based film, and didn't really require a 5.1 mix, but the sound is indeed used well on a very subtle basis. The surrounds are predominantly used for ambience and music.

    The subwoofer is really only heard when highlighting the bass in the music. There are no shoot-outs or explosions here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Unfortunately, the extras on this DVD are of no great consequence.

    The main menu is not animated, but has looped music from the film in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). It has the following options; Play, Scene Selection, Extras and Setup. All the menus are themed around the film, and are 16x9 enhanced.

Deleted Scenes (4:23).

    There are four short scenes in total, and they all play consecutively. Unfortunately, there is no option to play them individually. They have no scene titles and no reasons are given, either in audio or text, as to why each scene was removed from the final cut. All scenes are presented in a letterboxed format of reasonable quality, with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)

    The trailer for The Secret Lives of Dentists, presented in 1.85:1 letterbox, with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) surround encoding. This is a well structured trailer, and is of excellent quality.

Gag Reel (3:56)

    A series of bloopers from the film. All are quite amusing, and certainly worth viewing at a little under four minutes. Presented in 1.85:1 letterboxed, with Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

Propaganda Trailers - Trailers of other Madman titles

    Emile (2:19), The Other Side of The Bed (0:54), Tais Toi! (1:53), A Tale of a Naughty Girl (2:12), The Corporation (2:18). All are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

R4 vs R1

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

   The R1 NTSC version of The Secret Lives of Dentists boasts some considerable extras that are not on this version.

   R1 extras include:

    It also has closed captioning and English subtitles.

    If you are a fan of the film, you would certainly appreciate the audio commentary and featurette. Even though our version has a PAL transfer, you would have to go with the R1 version for overall content.


   If you like your drama to be intelligent, with a twist of humour, then The Secret Lives of Dentists is your film. The performances are all superb and the screenplay is suitably dramatic, witty and ultimately moving.

   Sadly, the extras are not of any great quality.

   The video quality is very good. Any problems it has aren't of a terribly serious or annoying nature.

   The audio transfer is excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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