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5 Supposedly Brilliant Movie Doctors Who Suck at Their Job

#2. Meryl Streep's Doctor in Postcards from the Edge Is a Creep

Columbia Pictures

Most of our readers will know Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia from Star Wars, but she also wrote the screenplay for a movie called Postcards from the Edge. Like Star Wars, it includes an unintentionally creepy romance.

Meryl Streep stars in the film as Suzanne Vale, a drug-addicted actress who's barely keeping it together until one night when she takes too many pills and ends up in the ER, getting her stomach pumped. Once she's out of immediate danger, the hospital transfers her to a drug rehab center, where she gets a nice note and a bouquet of flowers ... from the doctor who pumped her stomach, Dr. Frankenthal (Richard Dreyfuss).

Columbia Pictures
"I couldn't help but notice how beautiful your vomit-flecked lips were."

What a nice follow-up gesture! See, this is the kind of human touch we want from our medical professionals.

But Wait a Minute ...

Or, maybe not.

The note Frankenthal sends along with his flowers reads, "Hope your stomach is better. You seem to me to be what my mother warned me about: a beautiful, overly sensitive person."

Ah. So this isn't a "get well" bouquet here.

Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
"By the way, what's the policy on conjugal visits there?"

Now, to some doctors, unabashedly flirting with a former patient like that might breach some ethical boundary, especially when you take into account that the patient in question had just taken a suicidal amount of drugs and is obviously not thinking straight. But to those cynics, Frankenthal would probably say, "... hey, look over there!" before grabbing a couple of bottles of painkillers and racing out of the ER in a stolen wheelchair.

As most of the other men in the movie screw her over, the relationship between Frankenthal and Suzanne is played as the "real" relationship that viewers should hope she turns to after her string of duds. Along those lines, their interactions are portrayed humorously and playfully, as if dating the guy that pumped your stomach was as normal an occurrence as starting a relationship with your cute and playful next-door neighbor.

Columbia Pictures
"Oh, you scamp!"

The doctor's creepiness gets worse, by the way. At the end of the film, Suzanne visits the hospital again, this time to see her mother, who has been in a drunk driving accident. The doctor runs into Suzanne in the hallway and, proving once again that he has no problem hitting on people when they're emotionally vulnerable, asks her on a date. Because when your mother is dying, who wouldn't want to be making plans for dinner? Fortunately, at the movie's conclusion, Suzanne turns him down, but he vows to "wait for her."

Columbia Pictures
"I've got plenty of anorexic girls to prey on until you're ready."

#1. Dr. Lilian Thurman in Donnie Darko Thinks Her Patient Is Homicidal, Leaves a Voice Mail

Pandora Cinema

There are probably a million ways to interpret the sci-fi drama Donnie Darko (two million if you have a bong and a family-sized bag of Cheetos), but only one interpretation should matter to Dr. Lilian Thurman, Donnie's psychiatrist in the movie: Donnie is certifiably insane. Thurman has every reason to believe this.

Pandora Cinema
But he seemed like such a nice young man.

Why is Donnie in therapy in the first place? Well, in the course of the film, he commits several crimes, on the orders of "Frank" -- a giant imaginary bunny. The therapist knows this, and she also knows that Donnie has seen floating liquid spheres shoot out of people's chests. He thinks they have to do with time travel.

Thurman tells Donnie's parents that she thinks he's having "daylight hallucinations." In their last session, under the influence of hypnotherapy, Donnie admits to flooding his school and burning down a house. All of this is further exacerbated by the fact that Donnie is a known sleepwalker. So go ahead and add in the fact that Donnie, an admitted arsonist who feels compelled to follow the orders of an imaginary rabbit, has no control over the impulses of his subconscious mind when he's sleeping.

Pandora Cinema
God only knows what happens if he has the "show up to school naked" dream.

So, good job so far getting all of that information out of him, doctor. Now you can get this dangerous, violent man the treatment he needs in some kind of secure facility.

But Wait a Minute ...

She totally doesn't do that. And in fact, she doesn't bother telling anyone how dangerous Donnie is.

Pandora Cinema
And Richard Kelly couldn't risk giving us an ending we could understand.

See, there is a line where it's totally OK to breach doctor-patient confidentiality, and in fact, when a patient is dangerous, the therapist is required to tell the authorities. But what does she do? Well, after the session where Donnie admits to two different crimes (both of which the cops are currently investigating) and tells her that his imaginary friend Frank is "going to kill," she calls Donnie's house and leaves a message saying it's important that his parents call her back.

That's it. She doesn't say why it's important. She doesn't keep calling back. She doesn't contact his school. She doesn't take into account that Donnie could easily (and very likely would) erase her message if he saw it first. And most damningly, she doesn't alert the authorities. She just leaves a message and hopes for the best.

Pandora Cinema
Besides, if you actually talk to the parents, then you can bill them!

Sure enough, without anyone intervening and with no cops alerted to head over to the Darko residence RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE AN INSANE AND PROBABLY DANGEROUS TEENAGER HAS THREATENED TO KILL SOMEONE, Donnie heads out to a Halloween party with his girlfriend. They leave the party to visit a local "witch" to get some perspective on Donnie's situation, but Donnie's girlfriend gets hit by a car and Donnie shoots the driver. Body count so far: 2.

Thereafter, he finally decides everything's gotten so out of hand that he'll go back in time, let himself be killed, and avoid setting any of this in motion. But of course none of this actually had to happen. Had Thurman called 911 immediately after failing to reach Donnie's parents, everyone would be alive and safe, and Donnie would be receiving therapy and medication in a cozy medical center.

Pandora Cinema
Body count: 0



You can read more of Brendan's stuff if you follow him on Twitter. Daniel Crow tells jokes in person as well. He helps run a free show in NYC every Thursday. It's free, you should come.



For more people who need another career, check out 6 'Brilliant' Movie Scientists (Who Suck At Their Job) and 7 Brilliant Movie Lawyers (Who Suck at Their Job).

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