Loren Dean plays Doc Mumford (same name as the town), a shrink who shows up one day and immediately gains the trust of the people in this small town. With his easy going style and his ability to listen, it seems everyone in Mumford needs to go see him. The cast of characters include Martin Short as a criminal defense attorney, Jason Lee as a billionaire modem maker, Mary McDonnell as a depressed housewife, and Hope Davis as a women with chronic fatigue syndrome, among others. What none of them know, is that Doc isn't really who he says he is. And when Doc's secret comes to light, the town has to decide whether to stand by their friend, or let him go off to prison.
That's the plot in somewhat of a nutshell. From the previews we knew that Doc wasn't a real shrink, so it was basically finding out who he was and what happens to him. I'll admit, his whole back story was not something I could have possibly guessed, but the ending I think was somewhat predictable. The real strength of this film was its characters. And when you talk about the characters of this film, you have to start with Hope Davis. I was amazed with her acting ability. Having just seen Ashley Judd's horrible performance in Double Jeopardy, I had lost faith in acting ability, but Hope Davis brought that all back. If there is justice, when Oscar time comes around, Davis should get a supporting actress nomination. Jason Lee as that young billionaire skateboarder was good as well. He had this small town charm about him that was very appealing. And who could not love a single lonely guy trying to create a perfect woman? Not that I've ever considered that or anything. Alfrie Woodard as Doc's landlord/downstairs neighbor was wonderful. Ted Danson even made a cameo appearance that made the audience in my theater applaud (why I'm not sure, but considering I haven't liked him in anything but Cheers, he did a good job as well). And Loren Dean himself did a good job. It was a very reserved performance that allowed the other characters in the film play off of him. He was the focal point of the entire movie, yet his character allowed everyone else to shine through in contrast to his even mannered demeanor. Some others in this star-studded cast include David Paymer, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jane Adams, and Priscilla Barnes.
So overall the story line of Mumford wasn't all that special. Mysterious guy shows up in small town and helps the residents learn more about themselves and become happier people and when mysterious man's past comes back to haunt him the residents must decide to support him or to let him rot. This was truly a character driven movie, much like most of director Lawrence Kasdan's films. With a radiant Hope Davis leading the way, the acting in this movie proves to me that there is still hope in Hollywood. That you can make a film that doesn't need things blowing up or massive special effects. An entertaining movie can be entertaining on the strength of acting. And isn't that how it this all started in the first place?