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Mumford

Director/Writer:Lawrence Kasdan
Touchstone Pictures; 115 minutes; R
Release:9/99
Cast:Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee

Joining the list of movies named after small towns is Mumford, a locale that raises funny questions about identity, authenticity, and the real fake. Mumford also happens to be the name of an IRS exec ravaged by the fast life (Loren Dean) who relocates to Mumford to rebuild himself via a fraudulent psychology practice. His irreverent, direct advice works wonders in the lives of his clients, and Mumford begins to care deeply for the people of Mumford.

The scenario is thoughtful and ripe. When, for example, his inevitable love interest (Hope Davis) arrives on the couch with chronic fatigue syndrome, Mumford proposes that they session by taking walks together and romance soon follows. When the lonely skateboarding billionaire (Jason Lee) drops by, the doc doesn't just dish out advice, but instead plays Cupid. Several smart flourishes (such as one patient's recurring fantasies shot in black-and-white '40s noir), make Mumford an enjoyable watch, but it doesn't stick in the memory as long as it could have. At the very least, it confirms that a bit of direct advice beats a degree in clinical psychotherapy any day.


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