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: Bridesmaids

14 05 2011

It’s all too easy to label Kristen Wiig’s uproarious new comedy “Bridesmaids” the female equivalent of “The Hangover,” and it works for a quick comparison to sell the movie to a doubting friend.  However, for accuracy’s sake (something of great consequence to me), let’s set the record straight.  If you put “The Hangover” in a room with “27 Dresses” and allowed them to have a baby, and that baby turned out to be a girl, they would spawn “Bridesmaids.”

In other words, it’s a mixture of raunchy comedy that makes guys howl with the romantic comedy that makes girls swoon.  Call it the best of both worlds, but such a combination doesn’t make the great equalizing date movie a great movie.  The hybrid has a bit of an uneasy consistency, mainly because the belly laughs come to a screeching halt as soon as Wiig’s Irish-accented love interest comes on screen.  Maybe it’s just the critic in me that’s rom-com weary or the male in me that doesn’t really care how the girl inevitably winds up with the guy, but the cliched romance could easily have been excised to maximize the laughs.  (Not to mention it could cut down on the length, which is over 2 hours – epic length in terms of comedic films.)

So rather than endlessly compare “Bridesmaids” to “The Hangover,” I’ll let it stand on its own merit.  The credit for the laughs, both shocking and sensitive, goes to star and co-writer Kristen Wiig, who after years of stealing the show finally gets to be the show.  I feel very vindicated seeing her success after being a vocal advocate since 2005 when she joined “Saturday Night Live” and a written advocate ever since beginning to blog in 2009 (from “Extract” to “Whip It” to “Adventureland” to “Date Night” and even amidst the dung that was “MacGruber”).  But this shouldn’t be about me; it should be about her.  This is her big moment, and I hope she uses it to fly higher than previous female “SNL” comediennes like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

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