Picks and Pans Review: Medicine Man
Here we are, folks, at the Amazon Theme Park. First stop: the primitive cancer research center. We have all the ingredients of a surefire winner here: Connery, the shaman of the jungle, conducting serious experiments among the grinning, bare-bosomed-and bare-bottomed natives, and Bracco, the thinking mans Daryl Hannah, as the research-fellowship superstar sent to ferret him out. Plus there's a potential cure, Connery assures us, for cancer, "the plague of the 20th century," as well as a scenic sales pitch for the imperiled rain forest. And all for the price of a single ticket!
Turns out, though, that the real enemy in Medicine Man is neither the bulldozers of the lumber concerns nor cancer but a remarkably fatuous script that dwells incessantly on the abrasive relationship between Connery and Bracco. It's TV-sitcom writing, really: Medicine Man, purportedly a trail-of-the-cure film with many honorable forebears (Madame Curie, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet), is reduced by the screenplay to a sort of jungle-fevered, generation-gap Cheers. Connery, ill-favored with a gray ponytail, does his irreverent crank as well as can be expected, but Bracco's credible presence disintegrates every time she opens her mouth and a Bronx whine pours out. When she upbraids Connery for his cavalier ways ("You found a cure for cancer and all you can say is, 'I know'?"), she sounds more like a Hunter College English major railing at a New York City transit cop because she has broken her fingernail on a subway door.
Still and all, it's lovely out here in the rain forest, and Medicine Man has a very '90s message. So step lively, folks—and mind you don't giggle at the natives. (PG-13)