Liberally cribbing from every sort of hospital comedy from Young Doctors in Love to Scrubs, the Canadian import White Coats (aka Intern Academy) is precisely what you'd expect from a cast that includes Dave Thomas, Dan Aykroyd, Dave Foley, Maury Chaykin, Saul Rubinek, and Matt Frewer: Schticky, very very schticky.
Seemingly inspired by the success of Scrubs, Mr. Thomas (formerly of the brilliant SCTV, as well as the classic Strange Brew) decided to mount his very own medical farce; one that's over-narrated by a wide-eyed young intern who simply cannot believe how wacky St. Albert's Hospital really is! It's just so zany!
How zany? Well, it feels like Mr. Thomas went out and did a little research on "medical humor," which explains why most of the White Coats set-pieces feel like Catskill-era punchlines, threadbare urban legends and/or simplistic schoolyard raunchiness. Here's the type of schtick I mean:
--A man with a Barbie doll stuck up his ass.
--A female intern caught who (somehow!?!?) gets caught with sperm cells in her mouth.
--"Are you sexually active?" // "No, I just lie there."
--An intern getting zapped with a defibrillator.
--A girl's boyfriend being scared off by genital warts and herpes.
--A skewered colostomy bag.
--"I need a urine, blood, and stool sample." // "Just take my underwear."
--The immigrant cleaning woman who's been unwittingly killing patients by unplugging their life support machines so she can plug in her floor-scrubber.
--An intern vomiting into the cracked-open chest of a corpse.
--The interns actually have an organ fight in the morgue. Hilarious.
And on and on. Wedged in amongst the witlessness are a thoroughly unconvincing subplot 'o romance, which actually tries to turn sincere on us! 70 minutes of flung feces and then a straight-faced romantic subplot. Sheesh.
The younger cast members are suitably good-looking and personable, even if none of the interns manage to leave much of an impression. As far as the old-school Canadians are concerned, White Coats is a mixed bag at best. Aykroyd's stuck doing his "blustery bureaucrat" thing, Thomas is bland and officious, Foley gets to be enjoyably rude, Frewer seems to be doing an impersonation of Jim Carrey, and the rest of the gang just doles out the schtick and then wanders offscreen.
Video: The anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer is probably a lot better than the flick deserves, considering it's shot like a sitcom and lit like a supermarket.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is perfectly clean. Flick's not much more than generic dialogue, so you'll be fine. Subtitle are offered in English and Spanish, but (oddly) the English subs vanish halfway through the movie.
There's a Dave Thomas audio commentary that starts off with lies about "medical research" and how Canadian actors are mostly "ugly or homely," and then continues for another 90-some blathering minutes. You'd never know by listening to this commentary that Dave Thomas is famous for being a comedian.
There's also a 55-minute behind the scenes piece that's broken up into chapters like "What the Film Is About," "Main Characters," "Casting," "The Rehearsal Process," "The Invitation to the Cameo Stars," "Cameo Stars Describe Their Characters," "Young Cast On Working With Their Idols," (Dave Thomas is an idol?), "Cameo Stars On Working With Young Cast," "Working With Dave Thomas," "Medical Matters," "Haunted Hospital," and "Stripping Lessons." Pretty creative chapter names there. Interview subjects include Dave Thomas and actors Dan Aykroyd, Dave Foley, Matt Frewer, Maury Chaykin, Saul Rubinek, Jane McLean, Carly Pope, Pat Kelly, Peter Oldring, Ingrid Kavelaars, Viv Leacock, Lynda Boyd, and the seriously adorable Christine Chatelain. Needless to say, writer/director/star Dave Thomas dominates the whole thing. Plus there are several clips of the movie you just watched, just to pad out the length a little. (Thomas, Rubinek, and Chaykin tell the exact same anecdote, and it's not even an interesting one!)
Also included are some cast auditions, a 10-minute gag reel, and a bunch of First Look trailers for White Coats, The Breed, The Proposition (which is fantastic), Subject Two, Touched, Blackball, Dirty Love, and Totally Blonde.
Let's just say that Dave Thomas is a much better comedian in front of the camera than he is behind the camera. And that's an understatement.
Imagine a feature-length Scrubs, only take out the laughs and slap in a bunch of gross-out garbage, and that's White Coats. Better yet, just Skip It.