|Keywords||Caregivers, Chronic Illness/Chronic Disease, Communication, Death and Dying, Depression, Disability, Disease and Health, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Empathy, Euthanasia, Freedom, Grief, Heart Disease, Hospitalization, Human Worth, Humor and Illness/Disability, Individuality, Institutionalization, Loneliness, Love, Medical Ethics, Medical Mistakes, Medical Research, Nursing, Pain, Power Relations, Professionalism, Psychiatry, Rebellion, Society, Suffering, Suicide, Surgery, Survival, Time, Trauma|
The title refers to a Veteran’s Administration hospital regulation concerning the withholding of full medical benefits if an ailment is not specifically related to military service. In an oftentimes comic battle between the forces of good--physicians and vulnerable patients--and those of evil--the administrators and their minions--the story has currency and direct appeal to viewers.
The Darth-Vader-like administrators are self-serving, inhumane bureaucrats with emotions that run the gamut "from A to B" (Dorothy Parker). Physicians, especially the character played by Ray Liotta, but also his dedicated colleagues, are imaginative and non-rule abiding in their central concerns: the patients. They listen to stories and sympathize; in addition, they turf, lie, steal, and do whatever is necessary to protect, serve, and treat their patients. When the government denies a heart bypass, for example, the docs schedule prostate surgery for the official record and do, instead, the needed heart surgery.
At times, it’s as if the Marx Brothers or the Keystone Cops have donned white coats to sneak around the hospital with patient-centered antics. In the absurd bureaucracy, viewers, perforce, must cheer enthusiastically for the merry band of renegade docs.
However amusing, the story is centered on very serious matters: consequences of cost-cutting, rationing of care, physician-assisted suicide, compassionate care, corporatization of medicine, etc. For those who enjoy the skinny of ER, the inside perspective, this film is an extended version. No surprise, the good guys win. Temporarily. The film has strong parallels with films Mash, and Hospital.
|Leading Actors||Kathy Baker, Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, Lea Thompson, Eli Wallach, Forrest Whittaker|
|Running Time||99 minutes|
|Video Source||Orion Home Video|
|Annotated by||Nixon, Lois LaCivita|
|Date of Entry||01/12/99|