‘7 Faces of Dr. Lao’ is one of those movies after you watch it and wonder “You know, why are more people not talking about this?” ‘Dr. Lao.’ is the story of an old Wild West town where nothing exciting ever seems to happen until one day an old mysterious Chinese man, the titular Dr. Lao, arrives wanting to show the citizens his circus with many wonderful creatures and people such as Merlin, Pan, Medusa etc. However it’s not all fun and games as these attractions show some of the less likable townsfolk their true colours and makes them think twice about what their lives are like.
Tony Randall plays Dr. Lao and his many ‘faces’ and is nothing short of fantastic, giving a wide range of performances from the quiet and harshly honest fortune teller to the wise and eccentric doctor himself. I also should mention that the rest of the cast isn’t half-bad, especially the child who befriends Dr. Lao who really captures that sense of wonder and curiosity.
The fantastic lines in this movie are enough to make anyone crack a smile and even get a little emotional, especially Lao’s speech about the magic of life we experience every day.
The sets, effects and music are all great too. The great puppet work with the snake, the fantastic stop motion monster near the end, the atmosphere of the circus really makes you feel like you’ve entered another world, the music ranging from bright and cheery to somber and subtle much like the film itself.
If there’s anything bad I could say about the movie, it’s that it is pretty racist that Dr. Lao, a Chinese character, is played by a white guy. It doesn’t help that he does put on a hilariously offensive accent but you got to think back to when the movie was made back when it was probably more acceptable and even the accent I just mentioned is actually just an act put on by the character as he is shown to speak perfect English. Also, most of the townsfolk are some of the biggest skeptics you will see in any movie. Medusa petrifies a woman at one point and Merlin manages to change her back as well as making her a nicer person than she was yet the townsfolk STILL don’t think it’s real. It’s frustrating to watch sometimes to say the least.
But the good outweighs the bad in almost any regard and this movie is a must-see for anyone, reminding us that no matter what we might experience, being alive is fantastic. Do me a favour and see it soon.