Picks and Pans Review: Playing God

UPDATED 10/27/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 10/27/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

David Duchovny, Timothy Hutton

The hero (Duchovny) or, more accurately, antihero of Playing God is a handy guy to have around in medical emergencies. Three times during this dippy movie, he performs life-saving surgeries in nontraditional settings: on a bar top, in a hotel room and finally on a pool table. Some men won't settle for simply getting the eight ball in the side pocket.

Playing God, a black comedy-thriller that is never as smart or hip as it thinks it is, tells how Duchovny, a surgeon who has lost his medical license because of drug use, beats his addictions and redeems himself. Instead of community service, his path to redemption involves hooking up with a mobster (Hutton) and attending to the bloody wounds of Hutton's crew. Add to the mix a woman (Angelina Jolie) for whom both Duchovny and Hutton have the hots and an FBI agent eager to nail Hutton and you have the strained makings of God's puny plot.

Duchovny, the thinking woman's hunk on TV's The X-Files, offers a respectable if slightly goofy performance, while Hutton is amusingly over-the-top, as if he had been boning up on Dennis Hopper's and Nicolas Cage's work. (R)

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