From Academy Award(R)-nominated writer/director Lawrence Kasdan (BODY HEAT, THE BIG CHILL) comes this endearing romantic comedy. Starring a first-rate ensemble cast -- including Ted Danson (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), Martin Short (FATHER OF THE BRIDE), Mary McDonnell (INDEPENDENCE DAY), Jason Lee (DOGMA), and Alfre Woodard (DOWN IN THE DELTA) -- MUMFORD is sure to win your heart with its charm and wit. When a would-be psychologist, curiously named Dr. Mumford (Loren Dean, ENEMY OF THE STATE), comes to the idyllic town of the same name and offers his talent for listening and a disarming frankness, the town's quirkiest citizens scramble for a seat on his couch. As he lightens hearts darkened by old secrets -- including those of the beautiful and troubled Sofie Crisp (Hope Davis, ARLINGTON ROAD) -- no one realizes he's hiding a whopper of his own, or that he's fallen head over heels for one of his patients! Filled with personality disorders, surprises, offbeat alliances, and some hilarious fantasies, MUMFORD is just what the laugh doctor ordered.
Loren Dean, a pleasant, attractive actor who seems to fall seamlessly into the background of every film he's in (Gattaca
, Enemy of the State
, Apollo 13
), is perfectly cast in Mumford
as a psychologist (named Mumford) who wanders into a small town (named Mumford) and suddenly fits seamlessly into everybody's rhythms and routines. Balancing a no-nonsense approach with a keen ability to listen sincerely to everyone's problems (with the exception of a snotty lawyer, played by Martin Short), he's a friendly, approachable blank slate for all those who come to visit him. And while he's tending to the shopaholic housewife (Mary McDonnell), the pulp-fantasizing pharmacist (Pruitt Taylor Vince), and the anorexic teenager (Zooey Deschanel), no one seems to give a second thought to who the man is behind the therapeutic face, not even his slightly sardonic neighbor (Alfre Woodard). It's not until he befriends a sweetly daft computer billionaire (Jason Lee) and starts treating a chronically fatigued young woman (Hope Davis) that his past--or rather, lack of one--starts coming into play, for it turns out that Mumford is not exactly who he says he is.
Less a mystery than an affectionate, perfectly modulated character study, Mumford easily represents writer-director Lawrence Kasdan's best work in a decade. While the plot seems whimsically Capra-esque and the dialogue sometimes stilted, it's so carefully and quietly directed that its good will and gentle spirit seem to float lightly off the screen. Kasdan hasn't created such engaging characters since The Big Chill, and all are winning without seeming artificial. Most amazing is Davis, who manages to invest a woman suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome with an inner glow that slowly becomes brighter as the film progresses. And Dean, as the enigmatic Mumford, may have finally found his breakthrough role; after years as an also-ran, he finally emerges as a solid, charming leading man. After Mumford, you won't forget his name, or face. --Mark Englehart