REVIEW: Hello, My Name Is Doris

19 03 2016

Hello My Name Is DorisAs a child, I got quite a bit of enjoyment from watching Sally Field’s face become animated with emotion – chiefly, in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” (That dinner scene. Priceless.) Michael Showalter’s “Hello, My Name Is Doris” recognizes her gift for telegraphing emotion and amplifies it. The problem is that he allows scarcely any of her considerable talents to shine through.

As Doris Miller, a quiet accountant and caregiver for her late mother, Field’s performance is half authentic emotion and half GIF-able moments. Whatever humanity might be in the script for Doris gets squandered by her overly burlesqued acting that turns the character into more of a joke than an object of our sympathy and affection.

After her mother’s funeral in the first scene, Doris’ attention can go in any number of directions. (Her brother and sister-in-law hope she will clear out all the items she hoards away.) She choose to invest her energy in pursuing a much younger co-worker, Max Greenfield’s John Fremont, for whom she has the hots. Far too often, his boyish good looks reduce her to little more than a fantasizing teenage girl. That’s not to say all women of a certain age on screen must conform to a narrow model of proscribed behavior, but she is the joke of the scene far more often than she is the heart of it.

The flimsiness of character’s personality is only hampered by the silly, cliche-riddled script of “Hello, My Name Is Doris.” Bonus points for not having the slightest idea of how Facebook works in 2016. Field deserves something better to work with for her first step into the leading woman spotlight in quite some time. C+2stars





REVIEW: Zoolander 2

2 03 2016

Decades-delayed sequels from “Anchorman” to “Scream” and even “Monsters University” tend to fall into some trap of relying on nostalgia for or nodding towards the original film. To some extent, if the makers do not strike while the iron is hot, they have to remind people that the iron existed in the first place. And, not to overload the metaphor, but by employing a heavy hand with said iron, they can burn a hole through the cloth of the new creation.

Given the fashion origins of the “Zoolander” series, it would only make sense that the 15-years-in-the-making second installment would hew all too close to its predecessor. In many ways – and perhaps in the ones that count – it does. But multi-hyphenate Ben Stiller does have a few new tricks up the sleeves for his old character, and even more than just a new signature look to go alongside Blue Steel and Magnum.

In another delightfully absurd caper, the pretty, dumb Derek Zoolander once again gets caught up in a tale of international intrigue. This time, it involves a conspiracy to murder good-looking celebrities and bring the fashion elite of the world to the slaughter. And, once again, it sidetracks so Derek can resolve some familial issues as well as tension with fellow model Hansel (Owen Wilson). Oh, and there’s a music montage

All in all, however, “Zoolander 2” breaks enough from the original to make the team’s efforts worthwhile. Much of the fun comes from the new characters like Kyle Mooney’s Don Atari, a pitch-perfect parody of über-trendy hipsters, and Kristen Wiig’s Alexanya Atoz, an en vogue fashion designer with enough Botox in her face to rejuvenate an entire school’s worth of soccer moms. (It’s best not to mention Penelope Cruz’s Interpol agent Valentina Valencia or Benedict Cumberbatch’s transphobic punchline All.) The whole affair is predictably stupid, though anyone who remembers the first “Zoolander” ought to expect just that. Nostalgia sometimes makes people remember things as better than they really are, and “Zoolander 2” is essentially a chip off the old block. B2stars