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The Secret Lives Of Dentists

3.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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(Jan 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the tradition of American Beauty, acclaimed director Alan Rudolph (Afterglow) has fashioned a profoundly moving portrait of the modern family, expertly blending drama, humor and suspense in what Rolling Stone magazine calls "a remarkable film."

Dr. Dave Hurst (Campbell Scott) seems content with his wife Dana (Hope Davis), his three daughters, and a thriving dental practice shared with his beloved spouse. But when Dave glimpses Dana in the arms of another man, he begins entertaining dangerous fantasies, both sexual and violent. Spurred on by a menacing alter ego (Denis Leary), Dave is forced to confront his repressed anger and resentment or lose everything he holds dear.


The passion of oral surgeons is the unlikely subject of The Secret Lives of Dentists, Alan Rudolph's keenly observed comedy-drama. Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, dentists both, have three kids and a pleasant life. Pleasant, but not exciting. When Scott realizes his wife is having an affair on the side, he's torn between caution and an outrageous inner voice urging drastic action. That voice is personified by Denis Leary, who pops up with unwelcome advice, like a nattering ghost; needless to say, the role is a perfect fit for Leary's hostile persona. The blend of everyday realities--especially a hilariously miserable five-day siege with stomach flu--and Leary's surreal presence makes for a typically offbeat Rudolph offering. The smart script, after a Jane Smiley story, is by Craig Lucas. Indie stalwarts Scott and Davis both do subtle work--they're as careful and scrupulous as the dentists they portray. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Alan Rudolph and Campbell Scott
  • Featurette: "Sundance Channel Anatomy of a Scene"
  • Deleted scenes
  • Gag reel

Product Details

  • Actors: Campbell Scott, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney, Hope Davis
  • Directors: Alan Rudolph
  • Format: AC-3, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000X2EJ2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,798 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Secret Lives Of Dentists" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"The Secret Lives of Dentists" documents a seemingly typical marriage between two dentists, played by Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, who are in joint practice. Their marriage seems ideal, with their successful practice, two homes, and three beautiful children. However, the idyllic appearance of their relationship belies the festering problems brought on by years of neglect and passivity.
Director Alan Rudolph is known for highly stylized films that examine the complications of relationships, such as "Choose Me" and "Afterglow." What his works often lacks in realism, he makes up for by eliciting gorgeous performances from his cast. Scott brings great subtlety to his character - a submissive man who refuses to fight for his crumbling marriage. Davis is also excellent, managing to make her character sympathetic despite her actions.
Overall, "The Secret Lives of Dentists" is perhaps the best Rudolph film I've seen, and the script and acting is often quite perceptive. However, it ultimately falls flat in several ways. In particular, the film takes an ugly turn with the character played by Denis Leary - a devil's advocate type who attempts to goad Scott into action. The movie really loses traction with every scene in which Leary plays a key role. In addition, the tone of the film is strangely aloof, and I found myself struggling to connect with the characters or become involved emotionally. In sum, the film is an above average and quirky look at modern marriages with some very good acting.
Extras - Plenty of extras including an episode from the Sundance Channel's show "Anatomy of a Scene," which dissects the opera scene.
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Format: DVD
Dave (Campbell Scott) and Dana Hurst (Hope Davis) are married dentists who share a practice, two lovely homes, and three young daughters. Ten years of marriage has brought many successes but left them disinterested and unable to enjoy each other's company. When Dave sees Dana speaking to another man backstage at her amateur opera production, he interprets a simple gesture as an indication of infidelity. Exacerbated by Dana's unusually prolonged errands, Dave's frustration comes out in the form of daydreams in which he is goaded by an alter-ego (Denis Leary). Being cloistered together for 5 days while the flu makes its way through the family may or may not bring tensions out into the open.
"The Secret Lives of Dentists" has been adapted by Craig Lucas from Jane Smiley's novella "The Age of Grief", which borrows some of its ideas from James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". Like Walter Mitty, Dave Hurst is frustrated and bored and daydreams a lot as a result. He dreams of the relationship he used to have with his wife, and he imagines scenarios for his marriage's current condition. "The Secret Lives of Dentists" is essentially a "relationship movie", but one in which people deal with their discontent by avoiding one another. Dave and Dana don't communicate what they feel or think. Their interactions are brief and usually dishonest. We see what is going through Dave's mind, so we come to understand him. I don't think we ever fully understand Dana, but neither does her husband.
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Format: DVD
I love Indie films because they usually much better at depicting real humans then blockbuster films are. Sometimes indie films are just as bad as Hollywood films, that's a given, but as with anything, when you find the good stuff, the search was worth it!

This movie was fairly depressing, and moved slow, but the pace is fitting and it works for the film. I felt the relationship between Dave and Dana was handled really well. The performances by Campbell Scott and Hope Davis were wonderful. All the acting in the film was great, especially Denis Leary in this movie, and generally I dislike him(A LOT), and that's good thing for this film! :D

I really enjoyed watching what Dave was going through, it seems to reflect what I'd be thinking if my husband were cheating on me, or some-what like thoughts I've had about people hating me as well. It is a lot of fun watching him play-out the scenarios in his mind.

The main problem with marriages and many relationships is lack of communication (whether they be about financial issues or sexual issues). That's especially true in this film, they've gotten so wrapped up in they're day-to-day lives they don't have real communication about the most basic things. When one of them tries to communicate the other isn't in the mood to listen, of course there's the whole affair thing with his wife, so she is generally unreceptive of his attempts at affection and communication.

The only thing I dislike about the movie is just how unsympathetic it is. While makes sense because if you're cheating on somewhat you're not really thinking much about their feelings, or if you are, you block it out, at the same time, the film comes across a bit coldly at times.

Overall it is worth a view for people who want an honest look at marriage. It makes you realize just how much work a marriage takes. :)

God Bless ~Amy
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