Novocaine (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 90:39
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Atkins

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Steve Martin
Laura Dern
Helena Bonham Carter
Elias Koteas
Scott Caan
Lynne Thigpen
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Steve Bartek
Danny Elfman

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

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

Plot Synopsis

I find Steve Martin's movies seem to be more variable than most he can do films I really enjoy, like Roxanne and L A Story; he can do a movie I hate, like The Jerk; he can even do movies have good bits and bad bits, like Father of the Bride. When I'm confronted with a new Steve Martin movie I often feel like I'm rolling the dice...

Novocaine is confusing I honestly haven't decided if I like it or not. It's a bit uneven, and I'm going to blame first-time director David Atkins (he wrote the script, too) for that. But it has some redeeming moments, which we can probably thank the excellent cast for.

Unsurprisingly, Novocaine is about a dentist (to the best of my knowledge, novocaine was only used for dental anaesthesia). Frank Sangster (Steve Martin) is a successful dentist with a thriving practice and a happy life. He is engaged to the dental hygienist at his practice, Jean (Laura Dern). He has a brilliant office manager, Pat (Lynne Thigpen), who chides him regularly, but is fond of him. All is well.

Well, almost all is well. Frank has a loser of a brother, Harlan (Elias Koteas), but there's a black sheep in every family, right? Besides, doesn't the occasional imperfection bring the good stuff into high relief?

Anyway, Frank is happy with his life until a new patient appears. She is Susan Ivey (Helena Bonham Carter). He feels an instant attraction to her, and does something for her that he feels is wrong. That's when things start to come apart.

This movie has a tendency to veer unexpectedly. This is intentional, and a bit too contrived. I defy anyone to pick all the twists (heck, you'll have trouble picking any of them!). This is described by the cast and crew as a black comedy. I guess that's a reasonable description, although it's very much a jet pitch black. There are thriller and mystery elements, too.

Watch for Kevin Bacon in an uncredited cameo as Lance Phelps, actor.

One small warning: there are a couple of fairly gruesome moments in this film. If going to the dentist scares the daylights out of you, this is not the film for you.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1. We have a match!

The image is quite sharp and clear, with just a tiny bit of softness. The shadow detail is good, but not great; colours drop off into black a little more quickly than is desirable. There's no low-level noise.

The colours are deep and rich, with some vivid colours which are nicely rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a few tiny film artefacts, but nothing that's visible on a display under 80cm. There is no significant aliasing, but there is a bit of moire. There is a trace of background shimmer, but no other MPEG artefacts.

The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired. These are easily legible, quite accurate, and well-timed to the dialogue.

The disc is single-sided and single layered. No layer change is nice.

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


The only soundtracks are in English. There are Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtracks available on this DVD. I only listened to the 5.1 soundtrack, but I sampled the 2.0 it is very similar.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no sync problems.

The score is from Steve Bartek, but the opening theme is from Danny Elfman. The music is rather good at heightening the suspense, and the impact of some of the twists and turns. This is quite an effective score.

The surrounds are used often, and effectively, to provide ambience and deepen the envelopment of the score. The subwoofer is used subtly to support the score, and is well integrated into the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


There are no extras at all. This seems to be a feature of rental discs maybe we'll see some extras when we get a retail version.


This is a poor effort at a menu. They've included a box shot on a Fox logo, and put the menu commands on top.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region 1 version of this movie is filled with extras. This Region 4 version is missing:

That's a lot of stuff. The commentary is the biggest loss, I'd say. It's hard to recommend a featureless disc over one with this many extras, so let's hope the retail offering has a bit more on it.


Novocaine is a quirky black comedy film given an excellent transfer to DVD, but absolutely nothing else.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are completely absent, but that's not uncommon on a rental disc we can only hope we get a disc like the R1 when the retail version arrives.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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