21 November 1999 | Art-22
The medical profession takes it on the chin in this good comedy, with a wonderful performance by Albert Brooks.
This film takes its place beside many comedy/dramas touching on the inadequacies of the medical profession, such as Otto Preminger's "Such Good Friends (1971)" and Arthur Hiller's "The Hospital (1971)." Though the comedy here is not as "black" as those films, which concentrated more on the incompetencies of some doctors and nurses, "Critical Care" finds its humor in the insurance-driven medical profession today. Albert Brooks is absolutely wonderful as the epitome of a doctor caring only about the bottom line. His only concern is whether or not a prospective patient has medical insurance, and his decision to keep a comatose patient with no chance of recovery alive is based solely on the fact that the insurance company pays $9,500 per week ("cold cash") if he's alive, and zilch if he dies. Conversely, an emergency patient has very little priority if he has no medical insurance. The reason to see the film is Albert Brooks, in a much different role than he usually plays.
The setup is a bit contrived, but is easily forgiven. I also enjoyed the brief roles of Wallace Shawn as the devil (called "furnaceman" in the credits) and Anne Bancroft as sort of an angel in a nun's habit.