Young Doctors in Love

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Dec 01, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Garry Marshall made his name as a television sitcom writer and producer, most notably finding success with The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy, and Happy Days. But by the time the Eighties rolled around, his shows became less successful and he started to take an interest in movie production. Considering his reputation, it wasn’t such a drastic leap, although his transition into movie production wouldn’t be an easy one. Having Jerry Bruckheimer as his producer wouldn’t hurt, either. His big screen debut, Young Doctors In Love, appeared in 1982, and shows the dangers of trying too hard to be hip and funny.

With the success of Airplane! and Caddyshack, Hollywood briefly became enthralled with a new form of comedy: the parody film. By now, Marshall was a veteran comedy writer and producer, and so he decided to launch his career with Young Doctors In Love, a parody of soap operas, most notably General Hospital.  He assembled a superb cast (Michael McKean, Sean Young, Harry Dean Stanton, Dabney Coleman, Ted McGinley, Taylor Negron, Michael Richards, Patrick Mcnee), while enlisting a handful of big-name Soap Opera stars for cameo roles, including Susan Lucci, Janine Turner, and Chris Robinson.  The premise of the movie was a group of new interns and residents who find love and romance in the setting of a busy emergency room.  Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the plot development.

Marshall took a seemingly good premise and ruined it through a lack of restraint. Instead of the slow-burn comedy of Caddyshack or the ribald but tempered humor of Airplane!, he decided the best course of action was to pack the film endless zingers and jokes and gags, going all-out and turning it into a film with relentless screwball comedy. Marshall literally wanted every second of the film to have something funny in it, going so far as to utilizing ADR to add cultural references nearly two weeks before the film’s release in July 1982. 

This onslaught of comedy makes for a dizzying viewing experience. The producers had a theory: make a film so chock full of references and gag, one would have to watch it more than once to check all the jokes. So heavy is the onslaught that this reviewer couldn’t sit through it without pausing to catch his breath, not able to watch it from start to finish in one sitting. It doesn’t help that many of the jokes are painfully dated, but the film also contains an uncomfortable level of outright sexism that’s disturbing and unacceptable. It’s not that it’s “politically incorrect” or edgy humor; it’s just that constantly groping women and using them as sexual objects just isn’t funny.   

Even though the film was a commercial success, it didn’t fare well in the eyes of the critics. Marshall was burned by the criticisms and he never made the same mistake again, resulting in a prolific filmmaking career with numerous critically acclaimed movies such as Beaches, The Princess Diaries and Nothing In Common, and when he died in 2016, this film was rightly left out of the discussion of his accomplishments.  Young Doctors In Love is juvenilia that deserved to be forgotten, a blemish on an otherwise distinguished career.


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Steve Magrum
September 12th 2018

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