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October 26, 1989 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-26

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 26, 1989


Driving Miss Daisy inspires warm emotion

In the present age of high-tech,
high budget, high gloss theatrical
spectacles, it's refreshing to see a
simple three character play that tick-
les us while it touches us. Alfred
Uhry's sentimental comedy Driving
Miss Daisy presented Tuesday
evening at the Michigan Theater is
neither garish nor grand, but it
warms to one like a cuddly kitten.
With only a chair and table, a desk, a
small credenza, two stools, and sev-
eral telephones set against a plain
blue backdrop, the contention of a
crusty, aging Jewish woman for her
son's appointment of an affable
Black chauffeur named Hoke is
slowly worn away. Over.25 years, a
deep friendship grows as the two
come to understand one another and
the intolerant prejudices that affect
their lives.
In a purple dress with lace trim,
Rosemary Prinz captures Daisy's
cantankerous and flip yet somehow
lovable character with style and wit.
During a power outage, she invites
Hoke for the first time to "Eat any-
thing you want from the icebox,"
then punctuates glibly, "It's all
gonna spoil anyway."
Ted Lange as Hoke is functional
though perhaps not inspired casting.
At first Lange relies on stereotype
for his portrayal, which fits about as
well as his hand-me-down gray suit.

It may also be that Lange's voice is
too youthful for Hoke. But as
Hoke's dedication and self-pride urge
Miss Daisy's respect and admiration,
Lange relaxes and seems more at
ease. In a scene in which Hoke is
about to purchase Daisy's old car, he
gently warns her smoking son,
Boolie (Fred Sanders) to "keep them
ashes off my upholstery" with a per-
In a purple dress with
lace trim, Rosemary
Prinz captures Daisy's
cantankerous and flip yet
somehow lovable
character with style and
wit. During a power
outage, she invites Hoke
for the first time to 'Eat
anything you want from
the icebox,' then
punctuates glibly, 'It's all
gonna spoil anyway,'
fect blend of authority and tender-
Uhry's chronology of scenes
highlighting the pair's 25-year rela-
tionship is a bit sluggish at the
start. Daisy crashing the car, she and
Boolie discussing insurance, and
Boolie hiring Hoke provide back-
ground and characterization, but they
feel expositional and may even re-
strain some of the play's later en-

ergy. Once the play is moving, Uhry
puts a comic tag at the close of each
scene. It's cute once or twice, but
then becomes pat.
While Driving Miss Daisy is a
clever piece of theatrical writing, it
is also very predictable. Hoke not
being able to read and Daisy teaching
him and giving him a primer, Hoke
getting his salary increased after get-
ting an offer elsewhere to "name
your price," and the couple's even-
tual break-up due to passing years
are all notions that we've seen be-
fore. There is really very little new
about the situations, yet like a fa-
vorite book, they have a timeless
Despite a couple of lighting diffi-
culties and some dreary incidental
music for violin and cello, the rec-
onciliation of two different cultures
is vastly moving. Prinz, Lange and
Sanders have that elusive chemistry
that is so vital to such an intimate
play. Daisy weeps quietly as Hoke
recounts seeing his friend's father
dangling from a noose. And Hoke is
left speechless as he softly pats
Daisy's chair before her house and
its contents are sold.
In the scene of their last drive to-
gether, both are so elderly that their
getting into the mimed car, accom-
panied by banjo music, plays like a
Laurel and Hardy sketch. As Hoke
backs the car up, the image of him
and Daisy both slowly turning
around to see through the rear win-
dow as they had done much more
quickly years before has that senti-
mental tug that leads you down a
teary trap. But the magic is there,
and we eagerly take the bait.


Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine, right), a cocky medical student, shakes hands with Laurie Rorbach (Daphne
Zuniga, left) in Gross Anatomy. It's probably just congratulations over a cadaver well cut up, but love has
developed in stranger situations than this one.
Rigors of medical school
diagnosed as trite in Anatomy

During its more convincing moments, Gross
Anatomy almost makes you feel sorry for medical stu-
dents - sorry for those long, arduous hours of work
and study, and sorry for the blood, sickness and disease
that they have to put up with day after day. Almost
makes you sorry, because then you remember that
they're going to be messing with your bodies and tak-
ing lots of your money, so it's only right that they
have the most rigorous training absolutely possible.
All first year med students at Chandler Ufniversity's
School of Medicine have to pass a course in Gross

Is an affirmative action employer.

Human Anatomy - the systematic dissection of the
' . Jim ~niewozik Every 1human body. For our hero Joe Slovak (Matthew Mo-
Peaim kE dine), studying is a breeze and carving up a cadaver is
as easy as slicing roast chicken. Joe meets Laurie Or-
W ee6 kenc bach (Daphne Zuniga) and romance sparks as the
- - scalpels cut through epidermal tissue. But, becoming a
doctor and having a "relationship" are not compatible,
Senior P and so our. protagonists spend quite some time
"working things out" and "getting in touch with their

Yep, Gross Anatomy starts off like a bad John
Hughes teen flick, except that you had more empathy
with Molly Ringwald. The Modine character here is
such an obnoxious, cocky fellow that it's difficult to
give a toss about him. And when the film suddenly de-
cides to be a serious drama about what it is to be a
doctor, it's far too late because we just want to see
him get hammered by the tough instructor Dr. Rachel
Woodruffe (Christine Lahti).
Lahti, who was brilliant in Bill Forsyth's House-
keeping, is wasted here, though she gives the film a
semblance of substance. As the hard but vulnerable
teacher, she's the most sympathetic character in the
movie. Her relationship with Modine could have been
better developed. She helps him to "grow up," but his
transformation lacks credibility. The film ends up
caught between being a teen comedy and a treatise en-
nobling the medical profession. The theme of "doctors
shouldn't be just 'body technicians,' but should really
care for their patients as individual human beings" isn't
explored more than as a platitude to be simply stated.
Gross Anatomy feeds into the myth that the medi-
cal profession is somehow of a higher moral order than
the rest of us. I suppose this is because we've had too
many years of Dr. Kildares, Marcus Welbys and the
like - too many saintly healers. This is a fallacy be-
cause in the real world we're more likely to encounter
a Dr. Mark Craig (St. Elsewhere) with all his irritabil-
ity and fallibility. One day a great film will be made
about death, ethics and the medical profession - or
maybe David Cronenberg's already made it.
GROSS ANATOMY is now showing at the Ann Arbor
1 & 2 and Showcase Cinemas.

The characters in Joe and Laurie's dissection group
are stock American types: we've got the young, preg-
nant woman who's trying to raise a family as well as
working towards a career in medicine; there's the
snotty, preppie type for whom medicine will lead to
rounds of golf with the right people; and finally,
there's the pitiful hard worker who just doesn't have
what it takes to make the grade. Despite their differ-
ences, the group members inevitably buckle together
when it comes down to exams and memorizing 3,500
pages a week.

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an evening with
Stephen Jay Gould

. J

lecture and signing
of his new book
Rackham Auditorium
Thurs, Oct. 26, 8 pm
visit sponsored by
U. of M. Museum of Paleontology
and Borders Book Shop




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