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By Ian Grey | Posted

Six degrees of whatever not withstanding, Kevin Bacon really is an underheralded natural acting resource. In Novocaine, Bacon is sidesplitting as a head-up-his-rear Method actor researching a cop role by interrogating dentist/possible murderer Frank Sangster (Steve Martin). Alas, Bacon's turn is a mere cameo stuck in the tone-deaf cacophony of director/co-writer's David Atkins' helming debut, a stultifying serio-comic, quasi-Lynchian, noirlike something-or-other. Novocaine presents Frank as a meek suburban tooth-jobber who, despite a saucy relationship with the scrumptious if pathologically co-dependent Jean (Laura Dern), falls for just-plain-pathological dope fiend/con artist Susan (Helena Bonham Carter). Murder, career destruction, the discovery that the suburbs have a dark side, and weird computer-assisted camerawork result. As with his equally genre-jumbling script for Arizona Dreaming, Atkins shows a flair for strangeness, but his best effects are neutered by a scenario that jumps styles like adrenalized hobos jumping trains, and by a dauntingly self-immersive Martin.

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