A medical-student melodrama that zipped in and out of theaters last spring, Vital Signs is stitched together, Frankenstein-style, from decades of young-doctor movies and TV shows. Director Marisa Silver animates the clichés with enough slick professionalism to make the movie watchable. But that’s the problem: You don’t need to watch this movie to know everything about it. Here’s a pop quiz covering the major plot points. If you answer them all correctly, you can assume that, for all intents and purposes, you have seen Vital Signs and can save the price of a rental.
1. Will the cocky hero played by Adrian Pasdar (Near Dark) learn to stop subconsciously competing with his surgeon father?
2. Will he win the things he most covets: that surgery internship and the love of curvaceous doctor-to-be Diane Lane?
3. Will Lane get over a young patient’s death and stay in med school?
4. Underneath his gruff exterior, does the cynical, hard-nosed professor played by L.A. Laws Jimmy Smits really care about his students?
5. Will workaholic doctor Jack Gwaltney learn to mellow out when his waitress-wife (Laura San Giacomo) leaves him? And will he win her back?
The correct answers are: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. You’ll have to figure out your own grade. But the movie gets a C-.