Hypochondriac Eugene Levy is in the library looking at medical books. Like his future son Jim in American Pie, he is obsessed with anatomy. In Levy’s case , however, it is his own and it goes right down to the bone. So it is a little like his son’s.
He goes to his doctor in a what seems to be a gratuitously bizarre scene. There is no reason to think this is not a legitimate physician. In fact, dramatically, he needs to be legit in order to put the next “doctor” into the proper relief. The waiting room is populated by a man with a neck cast, 2 leg casts, and a halo brace; a punk with spiky hair, a kilt and a skull-print maternity blouse; and a guy in cable-knit sweater. Although, to be fair, the last guy also seems to have some sort of facial issues; definitely hair issues.
The doctor tells Levy the other patients are nervous enough to be there without him staring at them. Behind the doctor, Levy sees a window washer that seems to have some significance (but, alas, does not). The doctor recites Levy’s previous baseless visits, berates his current complaints, lights up a cigarette, and says, “Are you still here?” Levy tells the doctor that “his office doesn’t even look like a doctor’s office.” The surly doctor responds, “What do you want? Pictures of germs on the walls?” The whole scene reminds me of the “inexplicable malevolence” Jerry Seinfeld talks about in one of the commentaries on the Seinfeld DVDs.
Levy finds a new “Bone Specialist” in the Yellow Pages; how quaint. In a phone booth; how quaint. Munigant’s office is also bizarre, more of a museum of bones. Munigant’s immediate diagnosis is that Levy’s bones do not fit his skin. Seems reasonable to Levy. After a scan by a device the Bone Specialist invented, he gives Levy a full size x-ray to take home and study.
In the morning, Levy gets on a scale which helpfully states his weight aloud as, “169 pounds. You have lost 16 pounds.” Actually it is 17 lost since the 186 weigh-in at the doctor’s office. OK, different scales, but why not just make the math work?
Worried that his bones are showing, he goes into a bar and asks a fat guy how to gain weight. The fat guy makes a little speech that is pretty good, and too profound to sully by relating here. If you see me in a bar don’t ask me how to lose hair; I will not be as accommodating.
Levy invites Munigant to make a house-call as his bones are hurting more than ever, he is losing weight, and his wife is unhappy. He puts Levy in a recliner, has him open his mouth as big as possible, leans in, and simply says, “out.” Levy awakens and is in agony as somehow his bones begin to disappear from his body. Or were they already gone when he woke up?
The kicker is fairly botched as Levy’s wife enters and sees him in a heap on the floor, having been completely deboned. His head seems to have yards of extra skin creating folds around his face. Sadly, there was no effort to make this monstrosity look like Levy. It would have been so much more effective — and could have been played for either comedy or horror — just to leave the glasses on, or at least have his famously bushy eyebrows still be prominent.
Munigant is then seen admiring his newly acquired fully intact skeleton as his next patient arrives. Like many of Bradbury’s works, the science & mechanics of this miracle are less important that the story.
I warmed up to this episode a little more as I was reviewing it. For one thing, it is hard to take your eyes off Eugene Levy. He is pretty subdued here, but imminently watchable. Ultimately, though, it reminded me of how I feel about Night Gallery — with a little more effort, it could have have been a lot better.
I give it 150 out of 206 bones.
- Eugene Levy has been in 8 American Pie movies. C’mon, even Chevy Chase said “no” once in a while.
- The first, slightly less crazy doctor was also a doctor in Thinner. A mob doctor, see?
- The second, slightly more crazy doctor claimed to have the skulls of Caesar and Cleopatra. The actress playing Levy’s wife was in a movie of G.B. Shaw’s play Caesar and Cleopatra. The actor playing Munigant played Julius Caesar Rat in Faerie Tale Theater. I know, chills.
- Whenever I hear an unusual name, I immediately suspect an anagram — Ethan Rom = Other Man, Alucard = Dracula, Spiro Agnew = Grow a Penis, etc. But for Munigant, I got nothing. Very curious where that name came from.