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The first of the HBO-produced movies I've seen that didn't really seem to work in any way. I suppose, given the sheer volume they produce, it was inevitable, and I didn't have HBO back in 1997 when this came out. Maybe it was a bad year for them.

This is a classic case of too much premise and too little substance. Breast Men is a partially fictionalized account of the development of breast implants. How much, I can't say, but as they say, all the names were changed, which might have as much to do with the subject matter than dramatic purposes.

David Schwimmer plays Dr. Saunders, at the end of his residency when the idea strikes him. He is ridiculed by everyone, including his boss Dr. Larson (Chris Cooper). But when Larson discovers his colleagues are involved in interesting research while he is not, well he decides to put his resources into the idea.

We follow these two over the years, through the initial tough times, to implants taking off, the media backlash, personal animosity and a professional breakup, and finally how they deal with the recent uproar over silicone leakage and immunity issues over the implants. The script goes maybe halfway in putting the issues and feelings around implants on the screen. I felt no sympathy, though, for the characters or what they're going through. Like most of the patients (yes, bad pun coming here), the story lies flat on the screen.

For a comedy, it's too dry. As a serious treatment of its subject, it's too shallow. There are elements of camp in the production design, but they reflect nothing in particular from the script. As a character study - which at times seems the intent - the characters are weak and puerile.

More interesting than the story - and I suppose this can be interpreted more than one way - are the documentary-style segments (looks like 16mm) of women baring themselves and talking about what feelings they have about their breasts. Even though we don't see their faces, we get the best character moments here, actually touching on some complex emotions. These would be a great setup for a better movie, but this one simply can't deliver.

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