For me, Steve Martin steals the show as Orin Scrivello, a leather-jacketed, Elvis impersonating, sadistic dentist and abusive boyfriend. The scene in which he performs a torturous root canal on Arthur Denton, an insanely masochistic dental patient, played by Bill Murray, is twisted and funny.
When you first see Arthur, he’s waiting in Orin’s waiting room, fidgety with glee and excitement at the sound of another patient’s agonized screams. Once in the dentist’s chair himself, he doesn’t wait for the dentist to begin working on him; he starts shoving cotton rolls into his own mouth. As Orin pulls out one shiny, silver and scary-looking implement after another, Arthur becomes increasingly excited. When Orin asks Arthur to say “Ahh,” he opens wide and ecstatically belts it out. Orin shoves tool after tool into Arthur’s mouth, while he delightedly yells, “oh yeah” and asks for more. The dentist becomes increasingly frustrated as his inflictions produce pleasure rather than pain. When Orin begins to drill Arthur’s teeth, he moans and groans like he’s having an orgasm and yells, “Yes! Yes!” with utter delight. Pissed off, Orin tells Arthur to get out.
I was completely captivated the first time I saw the movie. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember being drawn in by the music, the kooky characters, the absurdity and the dark overtones. Its PG rating was perhaps a little relaxed for the more adult elements and violent scenes in the film. With its Motown-inspired numbers, incredible cast, and rather unusual premise, Little Shop is pure fun and entertainment.