The new interns are about to begin their studies at City Hospital, but before they do so they are assembled in the observation balcony of the operating room to watch a master at work, the head surgeon Dr Joseph Prang (Dabney Coleman) who asks them each in turn what they wish to specialise in, all while he attends to the patient. One of those hopefuls makes more of a mark than the others, Simon August (Michael McKean) who claims his ambition is to become the greatest surgeon in the history of medicine, which is greeted with a certain scepticism - but could he really be that good?
There are no straightforward answers to that here, but then again not much was straightforward in this determinedly ridiculous comedy which purported to spoof the medical soap operas running on television, to the extent that many stars of those appeared in cameo roles as an in-joke. It was in the studio's interest to include such TV stars since the same company making those small screen efforts was the one making this for the big screen, as Young Doctors in Love was the first project from the new arm of ABC-TV designed to create hits in the cinema. They had a couple of recognisable successes, but nothing to truly establish them.
So it was back to TV for ABC, leaving a film like this, which did OK but no more than that, as part of an experiment that failed in the end, and its productions were largely forgotten about. Nevertheless, this did pick up a small cult from those who caught it on what was perhaps its more natural home, even with the R-rated gags, which was television, and there may be a leap to actually recognise the soap stars now, losing part of the point of the parody (though Demi Moore was among them, who remembers her soap career these days?), but actually the humour was more a cross between MASH (the film) and Airplane! with its undercutting of authority and constant stream of deliberately stoopid jokes, both visual and verbal.
There was a selection of veterans showing up to take part, with Coleman demonstrating yet again his flair for straightlaced comedy, Harry Dean Stanton rolling out a positively ancient medical school joke (in fact, a lot of these jokes were ancient), and Patrick Macnee appearing in early scenes to be lined up for a major role but in effect doing very little. However, while there were many faces you would see in the eighties then be hard pressed to associate with any other decade, future genuine romcom director Garry Marshall obviously had an eye for the up and coming talent because quite a number of then-unknowns appearing in the ensemble went on to make a name for themselves, including the titular young doctors in love.
He was McKean, well on his way to This is Spinal Tap legend, and she was Sean Young, well on her way to, erm, it's probably best we don't say what she became known for, though she did get famous. As far as the plot went, it adopted the structure of multiple plotlines, just as in a genuine soap, so you had Simon and Stephanie (Young) finding an obstacle in her sudden medical condition, with a well-telegraphed final scene as to who will have to operate on her, and Pamela Reed as the head nurse was romanced too, but falsely so her admirer (Taylor Negron) could get his hands on the key to the pills cabinet, and the inevitable Hector Elizondo as a mafioso who smuggles his father into a room in disguise so he won't have a hit carried out on him. Elizondo dressed in drag for practically the whole movie, it was that sort of humour, intermittently hilarious but not something you could call consistent, with just too many groaners in there to be judged underrated. Still, there were worse examples of the gag a minute style. Music by Maurice Jarre.