A smart first-year med student takes nothing seriously, except the pursuit of his Gross Anatomy (human dissection) lab partner. It's up to her and their teacher to find a way to convince him to take his studies and life seriously.


Thom Eberhardt


Matthew Modine
as Joe Slovak
Christine Lahti
as Dr. Rachel Woodruff
Todd Field
as David Schreiner
Daphne Zuniga
as Laurie Rorbach
Zakes Mokae
as Dr. Banumbra
Clyde Kusatsu
as Interviewing Professor

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by g-man-22 7 /10

Underrated character flick nobody ever talks about

Not a great film, I suppose, but "Gross Anatomy" has enough that's entertaining, engaging and memorable about it to recommend the film to fans of character drama. "ER" and "Chicago Hope" may well have set the standard for medical dramas, but this look at some first-year med students and their quest to achieve the impossible (become a practicing surgeon or specialist) has long since been forgotten in the trash-bin of seemingly negatable Disney flicks. Released at the turn of the 80's, when Disney was rampantly putting out what seemed like a movie a week, it features a sterling performance by the eternally underrated Matthew Modine as Joe Slovak, an endlessly appealing character despite his tendency to annoy everyone else in the film. Slovak is a wonderful creation on the part of the writers, first seen in a highly memorable pre-credits sequence in which each of the post-grad medical schools asks him questions that eventually reveal the 'real Joe'. Or at least the Joe Slovak he wishes to project. Christine Lahti, who would of course go on to fame and acclaim in "Chicago Hope", practiced her medical chops here as a sickly professor bent on pressuring her students to achieve perfection, even if they themselves aren't often willing to reach for it. The rest of the cast (Daphne Zuniga and the always-great Todd Fields) have done work elsewhere that's gotten more attention, but it's doubtful they've ever been as effective as they are here. By no means is this a classic, but a sharply-observed film that despite a layer of Disney-esque schmaltz manages to touch, entertain and invigorate.

Reviewed by vertigo_14 N/A

Engrossing. (minor spoilers)

Gross Anatomy was released one year prior to another med student saga entitled Vital Signs. While the movies are similar in many respects, especially in creating a formulaic arrangement of characters, Gross Anatomy is much more of a comedy/drama while Vital Signs is pretty much a straight drama.

The story of Gross Anatomy concerns five first-year med students who's grueling academic schedule and various experiences with getting their feet wet forces them to consider whether they're really ready for the committment or are they just wasting their time. This is particularly true of main character Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine), as apparent from the introduction of him sitting in various admissions interviews trying to answer questions the way he thinks would please the representatives. Joe's a bright guy, and a pretty gifted med student, if only he'd apply himself. And that's pretty much the whole ponit of the movie. What is Joe Slovak's goal here?

The one to impress that on him the most is a pretty tight-fisted, but well-meaning professor played by Christine Lahti. Her character is not simply there to turn out med students who know the human anatomy, but who also have compassion towards their patients and realize that there is really much more to the whole field than just memorizing terms or grades on exams. Joe Slovak has yet to learn that.

The movie is pretty funny, despite being a somewhat sad story towards the end (and you'll probably guess why early on). But, it is a pretty entertaining film, and often a funny one at that. It's also interesting to take a look at the day in the life of a med student, particularly if those are your perspective plans. I'm not sure that this (and Vital Signs, which deals with 3rd year med students) is an exaggerated perspective of medical school like say, The Paper Chase (which deals with first year law students). Then again, they're two different ball games. 80s fans are sure to enjoy it. Daphne Zugian is always funny to see as the girl who tries too hard to pretend that she doesn't care or isn't effected by certain things (see The Sure Thing), but later, has to break down and admit it. She's pretty funny here, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, to make it quite an engrossing little movie. Aces!

Reviewed by tfrizzell N/A

Works Inspite of Shortcomings.

A first-year med student (Matthew Modine) is obsessed with becoming a doctor, but jokes his way through everything else in his life in this under-rated little flick that works due to a clever screenplay and good performances from the major players in the cast. The film goes for funny and outlandish situations, but has undertones of drama early and then the drama takes center stage by the film's final act. Christine Lahti shines as the one professor who locks horns with Modine. Above-average and enjoyable overall. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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