Dorian's Movie Reviews

Is it worth seeing? Reviews are presented with no cynicism, no comparisons, no biased standards, no pretentiousness - every movie is reviewed on its individual entertainment value including technical presentation.  
Scale 1 - 5
John Q
2001, New Line
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Written by James Kearns

"There but for the grace of God, go I," is the larger question this movie poses. It is very much a film about reality, and a good story that every US citizen should see. It is good despite some obvious problems. For example, it has a long stretch that is informational only, and it really is a "message" film. But if someone wanted a movie that symbolized the precarious position, the fears, and the mood of millions of people who live without healthcare, this would be the "Grapes of Wrath" story that tells it like it is.

John Q. Archibald's son, a very happy and normal eight-year-old, suddenly falls to a heart condition. With his son having only days to weeks to live, John tries desperately to get his son a heart transplant, only to be thwarted at every turn by a seemingly uncaring system that is hung up on qualifications, the main one of which is having full health insurance coverage or a lot of money. Money - you live. No money - you die. "Sorry, you know this happens sometimes." John Q. Public... er, Archibald, is driven to desperate measures to get the transplant, and it will cost him dearly.

Denzel Washington, as always, does a good job as John Q. Archibald, the factory worker whose son is dying from a heart condition. But for casting, I'm not sure that clean cut Denzel was the best choice for this character, except as a good messenger. Hospital Administrator Rebecca Payne was well portrayed by Anne Heche. Kimberly Elise created a very believable Denise Archibald, John's wife, and Daniel E. Smith was excellent as John's son, Mike Archibald. The police characters were not convincing - they appeared to be puppets of the creative team.

Besides the question, "What would any of us do?" if driven to these extremes, the story also squarely poses the question, "Why can other countries, even ones with difficult economies like the Russia, give their citizens complete medical care, but the US government seems to prefer seeing large percentages of its citizens treated like dirt and allowed to die, rather than find any mechanism for providing health care to those without it?" The 19th. Century saw the poor in the US worked to death in factories and public works projects. It is a sad commentary that the attitude of the US government seems mired in the same Century.

I give this one four spotlights for the message, but only three for everything else. It carries a PG-13 rating, possibly for portraying ugly reality, but more probably for some violence. Enjoy!

- Dorian


  • 5 Spotlights: The best of movie making, well worth seeing
  • 4 Spotlights: Good movie for the genre; may have minor technical or story problems but they hardly harm the enjoyment; clearly worth seeing; (most movies)
  • 3 Spotlights: Not bad, but has problems - worth seeing
  • 2 Spotlights: Caution - a "B" movie, probably will appeal only to some
  • 1 Spotlight: Caution - not recommended for any audience (will probably never be given)

Note: No half spotlights are given.

My reviews are not based much on my personal taste, or any standard besides entertainment value. I try to be as objective as possible, keeping in mind that entertainment value is very subjective and individualized. If I'm not interested in a movie I usually don't go see it, so it doesn't get reviewed. Each character, and each position in the production company might be highlighted if the contribution affected the enjoyment of the story as either outstanding or dismal and I noticed it, keeping in mind that many contributions are singularly distinguished by their seamless integration with the story, not calling attention to themselves and thereby escaping attention.

- Dorian Scott Cole

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