All right. I’ve been looking forward to Friday Fun all week-long. Mostly because I have been out of it and really needed to blow off some steam. So, after work, after the kids went to bed, and after a couple of drinks I started surfing through the television channels looking for something to stimulate my brain, or at least mindlessly entertain me. And I found it, on A&E of all channels. Most of the programming on A&E is crap, however they will occasionally kick out a feature-length movie, or better yet a mini-series. The one they just did, Coma, is a remake of a 1978 film of the same name taken from the 1977 book written by Robin Cook, or should I say Dr. Robin Cook. Who, amazingly enough, is still a practicing physician and has written over thirty medical thrillers.
Anyway, the movie has a fairly stellar cast, Lauren Ambrose, Geena Davis, Richard Dryfus, James Woods, and Ellen Burstyn round out a very nice cast. screenwriter John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) and director Mikael Salomon (“Band of Brothers”) along with producers Ridley and Tony Scott make for an interesting combination. The Scott brothers had also co-produced the remake of The Andromeda Strain, by Crichton (which I hated by the way) for A&E a few years back. But nevertheless there it was and I wasn’t about to let it go by the wayside without a watch.
They had turned it into a four-hour mini-series. I was intrigued. I remember this novel being on my grandmother’s scary book shelf as well as watching the 1978 movie back in the day. I know the LA Times wasn’t impressed with the movie, but if I listened to the critics before seeing anything, chances are I would actually see very little, critics are usually pretty narrow-minded when it comes to their entertainment.
Susan Wheeler (Ambrose) is a medical student and first year resident at Memorial hospital, where several patients have gone into a coma. At first it just seems like random occurrence, but then Susan starts to dig a bit further into it, receiving the protection of one of the superstars in the hospital Dr. Stark (Woods). It doesn’t hurt that she is the granddaughter of the man who taught her teachers. Add a psychotic janitor with a murder fetish, a mysterious foundation for coma patients, some really big doctor egos, and a mysterious doctor suicide and there is a making of an interesting thriller. Even knowing how it ends I found myself caught up in the movie.
The film does have a nice level of suspense throughout and manages to convey the story pretty well, except maybe for the YouTube like video at the very beginning of the film that makes a return visit to Susan’s iPad, helping her decide that the Jefferson Institute just might be a bad, bad place. In the end, the movie was worth a watch, while not a super suspenseful thriller filled with subtle plot devices and several twists, it does deliver on the entertainment scale, and that was all I was looking for.