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MOVIE REVIEW:Breast Men
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Breast Men is a very entertaining film, and not just because it
features more naked boobs than Russ Meyer could shake a stick at.
Somewhat loosely based on a true story, this is a film about the
creators of the silicone breast implant. Kevin Saunders (David
Schwimmer) is the desperately intense and socially clueless young
medical student and Bill Larson (Chris Cooper) is the arrogant but
somewhat insecure doctor training Kevin to be a plastic surgeon. Kevin
comes up with the idea and Larson initially resists it but comes around
in frustration at other physicians considering plastic surgeons to be
nothing more than "beauticians". They encounter nothing but resistance,
both from the medical profession and from women. The only real support
they receive is from Dow Corning chemical company, who is more than
pleased to find a new use for the silicone on which they own a paten.
With no other options, Larson decides to use his own money to open a
clinic to provide implants to women but it takes Kevin breaking another
medical taboo and advertising to start them on their way to success.
And what success they have. They can barely keep up with the demand.
But then Kevin and Larson have a falling out, sending Kevin down a dark
road of strippers and drugs and ever larger implants for ever more
neurotic and unhappy women. Then the great silicone implant medical
scare almost destroys both men and their practices, but it's ultimately
Kevin who finds the silver lining in that dark cloud.
This movie works on several different levels. It's both a fun little
history of the breast implant era, an examination of partnership, a
look at women's complicated relationships with their bodies and it
tells the story of Kevin's growth from dysfunctional and somewhat
emotionally stunted young man to a grown up but not particularly nice
David Schwimmer really gives a fine performance, even while burdened
with a retrospective of bad haircuts of the later 20th century. Yes,
for a while it does seem like he's just playing Ross from Friends.
That's probably an albatross he'll have to carry on every acting job he
ever has for the rest of his life. But it doesn't take him long to shed
that persona and show us that Kevin Saunders is quite a different
person. He's one of those guys who's always wanting, but never quite
sure what it is he wants or how he can get. That need drives him to do
exceptional things that other people wouldn't do. Without the more
controlled and self-aware Larson as his partner, however, Kevin would
have never gotten anywhere. Like a car without a driver, Kevin would
have just sat in the garage getting rusty. Larson is like the driver.
Without a car, he's stuck on the side of the road going nowhere.
Kevin's ceaseless wanting eventually leads him to want to be both car
and driver, but he can't handle it. Without Larson's stability, Kevin
degenerates as a person and as a doctor. Even at his peak success when
he's fabulously wealthy, Kevin is crude and needy and unhappy.
Larson is the smaller role in the story, but it's not uninteresting.
He's the man who makes the Faustian bargain. He always believed plastic
surgery was important but needs other people to validate his status. So
he latches on to the breast implant as his version of an organ
transplant or miracle vaccine. But as the use of breast implants for
simple enlargement, as opposed to cosmetic or reconstructive uses,
comes to dominate his profession and his practice, Larson grows more
and more bitter and insecure. It's as though he realizes that sticking
big boobs on otherwise perfectly normal women really is more like being
a beautician than a doctor.
Emily Proctor also does a fine job as a young nurse who somewhat
reflects cultural attitudes toward silicone implants. At first she's
offended at the suggestion she get them. Then she wants implants to
feel better about herself. Then she wants them removed as a way of
taking control of her aging body. And yes, we do get to see her
unaltered knockers. They're very nice and the fact that a beautiful
woman with such a fine, normal bosom feels the need for surgical
enhancement is one of the ways this film tries to grapple with the
ethical questions of breast enlargement.
While the movie does wallow in some of the sleazier and more libidinous
aspects of breast implant, it takes a generally even handed view of the
issue. Beyond their use for women who've suffered some sort of damage
or trauma to their breasts, this story suggests that women simply
wanting bigger breasts so they feel better about themselves isn't such
a bad thing. But it also acknowledges that once you open up that door,
it becomes almost impossible to close it again. To put it another way,
Breast Men accepts that it's probably okay for a woman to want to go
from an A cup to a C cup. But it also implies that if you accept that,
there's no way to really object to unhealthy extremes like multiple
surgeries and going from A to C to FFF.
If you'd like to watch a movie that addresses the cultural questions
and arguments over the silicone breast implant, while making you laugh
more than a few times, you'll enjoy Breast Men. If you'd just like to
ogle an enormous number of bare boobs, this movie is good for that as
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