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Damaged Care

Paramount // PG // December 10, 2002
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jason Bovberg | posted January 5, 2003 | E-mail the Author

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

Damaged Care is a made-for-Showtime movie about the managed care industry. It's a typically earnest docu-drama that is heavy on message and whose story serves primarily to shout that message loudly and clearly.

Laura Dern stars (she also coproduced the film) as Dr. Linda Peeno, a medical-insurance claim reviewer at Humana Health Care. In her new job, she's expected to review patient insurance claims and generally reject them. That's the way the system has worked for years, and Linda must struggle to align her morals and even her humanity with the seeming heartlessness of specific claim denials. As Linda delves deeper into the questionable ethics of her chosen profession, she finds herself increasingly frustrated until the pivotal day when an emergency heart transplant requires urgent approval. Things get worse, and ultimately Linda must take a stand against the abusive health care industry.

Typically, I don't have much use for made-for TV fare, and the first half of this melodramatic film reminded me why. Damaged Care's obvious plot developments and hammily serious acting lend this movie all the dubious distinctions of mediocre television drama produced by, say, Hallmark.

That being said, in the film's second half, the story elevates to watchability, thanks mostly to the presence of Laura Dern, who turns in a fairly powerful performance, regardless of the too-earnest approach to the subject matter. If you're a fan of Dern, I recommend Damaged Care as a film that showcases her acting talents at this point in her career.

HOW'S IT LOOK?

Paramount presents Damaged Care in an acceptable fullframe transfer of the film's original broadcast presentation. Detail is exemplary, and colors are vivid. The only drawback I noticed was aliasing artifacts along hard edges.

HOW'S IT SOUND?

The Dolby Digital 2.0 track merely gets the job done, delivering dialog accurately and providing a fair amount of richness to the score.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

Nothing whatsoever.

WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?

Damaged Care is better than your average "earnest message-laden made-for-TV schlock," thanks mostly to Dern. Still, because it's a featureless DVD at a high price, consider it a rental only.

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