Looking for a few good flicks and binge-worthy shows to fill up your watchlist while you’re hunkered down?
We’ve gathered together some toothsome escapes featuring dental pros for your viewing delight, whether you’re looking for some light laughing gas or a deeper drill into modern American life.
Many of these movies seem to reveal the tender nerve of peoples’ fears about visiting the tooth doctor. By allowing us to chuckle at our paranoia, they make the real experience of getting a checkup seem like a piece of (sugar-free) cake.
No matter what, immersing yourself in a fun show can work like a well-placed shot of anesthetic to ease away the stresses of the day. Ahhhhh… enjoy.
Director: Frank Oz
Stars: Rick Morais, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Levi Stubbs, Vincent Gardenia, and Tichina Arnold, with cameos by Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, and John Candy
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin)
A campy musical that swallows your attention whole. (Stay tuned for the remake. Dreamy Chris Evans is in negotiations to star as the dentist, Orin Scrivello.)
By Walter Goodman in The New York Times: “‘Feed me, Seymour!’ demands the peculiar potted plant in [a] skid-row flower shop. And, boy, does he get fed! ...
“The extravagant horticulture, of course, takes place in ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ ... This 1986 version, with a witty screenplay by Howard Ashman, zips along, under Frank Oz’s direction ... Levi Stubbs’s big voice explodes from the insatiable plant, and there’s a knockout turn by Steve Martin and Bill Murray as a sadistic dentist [Orin Scrivello] and his masochistic patient.”
Dr. Orin Scrivello: [singing] When I was younger, just a bad little kid/My mama noticed funny things I did/Like shooting puppies with a BB gun/I’d poison guppies, and when I was done/I’d find a pussycat and bash in its head/That’s when my mama said...
Crystal, Ronette, Chiffon: What did she say?
Dr. Scrivello: She said, “My boy, I think someday/You’ll find a way/To make your natural tendencies pay/You’ll be a dentist!/You have a talent for causing things pain/Son, be a dentist/People will pay you to be inhumane/Your temperament’s wrong for the priesthood/And teaching would suit you sill less/Son, be a dentist/You’ll be a success!”
Director: Mike Mills
Stars: Lou Taylor Pucci, Keanu Reeves, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Benjamin Bratt
Dental Pro: Orthodontist Dr. Perry Lyman (Keanu Reeves)
This award-winning indie flick features Keanu Reeves as a philosophical orthodontist who helps reorganize an anxious teen’s mind more than his mouth.
By Ken Tucker in New York magazine: “As movies about troubled adolescents who find comfort in regressive infantile habits and the soothing voice of Keanu Reeves go, this new one rises to the very tippy-top. This is not least because Reeves trades in his Matrix/Constantine black trench coat for a white lab coat to play an orthodontist. But he’s quite a Matrix/Constantine–ish sort of orthodontist, a poker-faced Gloomy Gus who can make the question ‘Are you ready to let go of your thumb?’ sound equally like a sensible dental-related query and the threat of a handsome zombie who just might be holding some sort of steel thumb-cutter behind his back.
“One of the wonderful things about Thumbsucker is that, unlike so many movies in which a character changes in order to propel the plot forward, this one stops to follow up on the consequences of those changes. You may think Keanu-the-orthodontist has faded away as a now-useless dispenser of Novocaine and New Age advice, but he reappears in a surprising twist …”
Justin Cobb: What happened?
Dr. Perry Lyman: What do you mean?
Justin: This place. It looks a little depressing.
Dr. Perry: I don’t know, I ... I guess I stopped trying to be anything. I accepted myself and all my human disorder. You might wanna do the same. Do you remember when you were like, 13 or something, you were ... You were always doing an impression of a newsman.
Justin: [chuckles] I did?
Dr. Perry: You were quite good.
Dr. Lyman: If that’s what you want to do, New York is the perfect place for you. Make the contacts, knock on doors. Get the right haircut, take voice lessons. Might work. Then again. You’ll have to deal with a lot of fear.
Justin: I just came here for a checkup.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Stars: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Dental Pro: Dentist Philip Sherman (voice of Bill Hunter)
Dr. Philip Sherman’s aquarium (a calming feature in many dentists’ offices) becomes the center stage for several raucous scenes in this animated underwater adventure by Pixar.
By Roger Ebert: “The picture’s great inspiration is to leave the sea by transporting Nemo to that big tank in the dentist’s office. In it we meet other captives, including the Moorish Idol fish Gill (voice by Willem Dafoe), who are planning an escape. Now it might seem to us that there is no possible way a fish can escape from an aquarium in an office and get out of the window and across the highway and into the sea, but there is no accounting for the ingenuity of these creatures, especially since they have help from a conspirator on the outside — a pelican with the voice of Geoffrey Rush.”
[the Tank Gang is watching the dentist]
Deb [damselfish]: What have we got?
Peach [starfish]: Root canal, and by the looks of those X-rays, it’s not going to be pretty.
[Dentist drills and patient screams]
Bloat [porcupine pufferfish]: Rubber dam and clamp installed?
Gurgle [royal gramma fish]: What did he use to open?
Peach: A Gator-Glidden drill. He seems to be favoring that one lately.
… [Dentist picks teeth and patient screams]
Peach: Now he’s doing the Schilder technique.
Bloat: Ooh, he’s using a Hedstrom file.
Gurgle: That’s not a Hedstrom file, it’s a K-FLEX.
Bloat: It has a tear-dropped cross section. Clearly, a Hedstrom.
Gurgle: No, no, K-Flex.
Bloat: Oomp. There I go. A little help, over here.
Deb: [sighs] I’ll go deflate him.
Creators: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson
Stars: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Hannibal Buress
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Lincoln Rice (Hannibal Buress)
Hilarious show created by two real-life best friends, Ilana and Abbi, who also star in the show as best friends. The comedic pair navigates life in New York City with edgy humor and “sneak-attack feminism,” according to the Wall Street Journal. One of them ends up dating an easygoing dentist, Lincoln Rice, who is played by Hannibal Buress. You can stream episodes on Comedy Central or on Hulu with a free trial. —Samantha Yamashita, Cocofloss marketing associate
By Caroline Framke on The A.V. Club: “Wisdom Teeth” [episode 3; season 2] completely swaps Abbi and Ilana’s traditional roles, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch Jacobson and Glazer stretch some new muscles. Abbi almost immediately gets high out of her mind on … whatever it is Lincoln gave her …
“Ilana’s maternal worry for Abbi before, during, and after her wisdom teeth surgery is an extension of the usual concern for her best friend that once had her run from Brooklyn to Queens when Abbi didn’t answer her phone. Everything is always a little life and death with Ilana, so it still doesn’t feel unusual when she waves brightly at Abbi in her dentist chair and declares that if she doesn’t wake up, ‘I’ll still see you because I’m gonna kill myself and meet you in heaven or whatever!’ The only constant of Broad City, after all, is that Abbi and Ilana love each other the most — and also that Ilana might love Abbi just a little bit more.”
Ilana: Hey, where are you?
Lincoln: I’m at that dog shelter.
Ilana: [exasperated] Lincoln, just get a dog!
Lincoln: I can’t inflict upon a dog the crazy life of a dentist.
Check out Lincoln’s old Tumblr, The Al Dente Dentist where he wrote about making pasta every Sunday. And mind his admonition to floss daily!
Creators: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld
Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston)
Before actor Bryan Cranston rose to fame as a meth-making chemistry teacher in “Breaking Bad,” he played the recurring character of dentist Dr. Tim Whatley on Seinfeld, one of the best sitcoms of all time. Look for him in the following episodes: “The Strike” (1997), “The Yada Yada” (1997), “The Jimmy” (1995) “The Label Maker” (1995) “The Mom and Pop Store” (1994).
Rotten Tomatoes editorial by Jeff Giles: “Seinfeld’s comedy largely derived from the sturdy dynamics between the show’s central foursome, which meant there wasn’t much need for a lot of recurring characters — and as a result, the ones who did manage to return more than a time or two were generally pretty memorable. Case in point: Jerry’s dentist Tim Whatley, played by Cranston over a handful of episodes throughout the show’s run — some of which were among its most memorable. Aside from giving him a chance to show off his comedic chops, Cranston’s Seinfeld spots put him down in sitcom history as one of the people who helped bring the world ‘re-gifter’ and ‘anti-dentite.’”
Tim: All right, it is cavity time. Ah, here we go. Which reminds me, did you hear the one about the rabbi and the farmer’s daughter? Huh?
Tim: Those aren’t matzah balls.
Jerry: Tim, do you think you should be making jokes like that?
Tim: Why not? I’m Jewish, remember?
Jerry: I know, but …
Tim: Jerry, it’s our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for 3000 years.
Tim: 5000, even better. Okay, Chrissie. Give me a schtickle of fluoride.
Creators: Fred Armison, Julio Torres, and Ana Fabrega
Stars: Fred Armisen, Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Bernardo Velasco
Dental Pro: Dental hygienist Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti)
Called “Scooby-Doo for the modern age,” the HBO creepy-fun comedy Los Espookys includes a part-time dental hygienist who works with an eccentric team to stage fake scares for clients who need them. Though it’s mostly in Spanish (with subtitles), this show’s combo of horror and off-kilter humor is for anyone looking for a quirky escape.
Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker: “The visual design of the show is exceptional, from Andrés’s cerulean hair and asymmetrical ruffled blouses to the creepily pastel dental office where the unsmiling Úrsula works. ‘Los Espookys’ makes frequent meta-references to its own theatricality — at one point, after a nun tells a story about Andrés’s adoption, which we see elegantly dramatized, Andrés tells her, solemnly, ‘This brings no clarity or further insight into my past, but thank you for the beautiful flashback.’ But although the show shares a certain archness with Wes Anderson films or the recent series ‘Maniac,’ it is free of the accompanying self-seriousness. It’s loose and healthily illogical, with plenty of big laughs.”
Úrsula: You bring the smile, I’ll bring the teeth.
Creators: Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, and Ryan Murphy
Stars: Lea Michele, Jane Lynch, and Matthew Morrison
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Carl Howell (John Stamos)
Also called “the finest dentist alive,” Dr. Carl Howell, played by John Stamos, appears as the ex-husband of main character Emma in this high-school musical drama that leaves you singing and smiling. Look for Dr. Howell in the following episodes shown from 2010 to 2011: “Britney/Brittany,” “The Rocky Horror Glee Show,” “Special Education,” and “Sexy.”
From CBS San Francisco: “Question: What could be better than an entire episode of ‘Glee’ dedicated to Britney Spears? Answer: An entire episode of ‘Glee’ dedicated to Britney Spears co-starring John Stamos. [The episode ‘Britney/Brittany’] features Stamos as a dentist who plays fast and loose with anesthesia. Get ready for the show by breaking out your floss and listening to tracks from the night.”
Dr. Carl Howell: All right, so here’s the deal. You chew this little capsule. Now, if there’s any plaque you missed, the dye will stick to it and turn your teeth blue.
Santana Lopez: Can I just say that you are the hottest dentist I’ve ever seen?
Dr. Howell: I get that all the time.
Santana: No, like, seriously. You can totally drill me whenever...
Emma Pillsbury: [interrupting] Santana. Okay, let’s stay focused.
Creators: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon
Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, and Harry Shearer
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Wolfe (voice of Hank Azaria)
By Nathan Rabin on AV Club: “‘Last Exit To Springfield’ is a popular candidate for the single greatest episode of The Simpsons, the greatest television show of all time (suck it, The Wire; cram it, All In The Family). What makes this episode so special? What makes it the very best of the best? The answer, I think, comes down to joy. For an episode centering on emotionally charged, high-stakes labor negotiations and the horror of cut-rate dental care, ‘Last Exit To Springfield’ positively radiates an unlikely but pervasive sense of joy.”
Dr. Wolfe: How often do you brush, Ralph?
Ralph: [Nervously] Three times a day, sir.
Dr. Wolfe: [Angry] Why must you turn my office into a house of lies?
Creators: Loren Bouchard and Jim Dauterive
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, John Roberts, and Kristen Schaal
Dental Pro: Dentist Dr. Yap (voice of Ken Jeong)
This laugh-out-loud animated sit-com for adults features the quirky family of Bob Belcher, the owner of a hamburger restaurant. Look for the family’s guitar-playing dentist, Dr. Yap, in the episodes “Dr. Yap,” “My Big Fat Greek Bob,” “The Kids Run Away,” “Glued, Where's My Bob?,” “Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street.” As eldest daughter Tina says, “Dr. Yap is dreamy. When he's looking at my molars, it's like he's looking right into my soul.”
By Dyanamaria Leifsson on TV Equals: “I would have a hard time imagining anyone but Ken Jeong voicing Bob’s dentist, Dr. Yap. It was as if that character had been written with him in mind, and Jeong absolutely delivered. I share Bob’s fear of dental procedures, but he did much better than I would have if my dentist started off with a casual admission of accidentally sticking a needle through a previous patient’s cheek and then brushed it off with ‘I hate Mondays.’”
From “The Kids Run Away”
Dr. Yap: [during Tina's dentist check-up] Spotless as always, Tina.
Tina Belcher: You know, we don't always have to make this about business. I'm more than just a mouthful of perfect teeth.
From “My Big Fat Greek Bob”
Bob Belcher: We're definitely switching dentists!
Tina Belcher: No!
Dr. Yap: You'll never get a better family dentist who's in your provider network!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Despicable Me, Django Unchained,Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Hangover, Grey’s Anatomy:“In the Air Tonight,” Novocaine,Mr. Bean: “The Trouble with Mr. Bean,”, The Office: “Niagara: Part 2” and “The Coup,” The Secret Lives of Dentists, Marathon Man, M*A*S*H, The In-Laws
While you relax with a funny flick, just kick up your feet, unwind your floss, and gently give your teeth and gums a soothing massage. Rotten To-Molars Review: “100% cleansing and refreshing!”