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Thursday, October 6, 2016

HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (2015)

Small & phoney, this well-received mismatched-couple comedy has to put blinders on all its characters to reach the finish line. A second feature for tv writer/director Michael Showalter, he’s happy to set up embarrassing comic situations & relationships, only to find himself out of his depth and teasing his way out of trouble. Here, lonely eccentric spinster Sally Field falls for the new hunk at work (Max Greenfield) leading to miscues in an unlikely friendship she thinks might turn romantic in spite of a two-generation age gap. In a French comedy (or a more dangerous American one), they’d get drunk, screw, then deal with the embarrassing consequences. But Showalter’s been nursing the tv teat too long to push against likability norms. Instead, plot beats & dramatic tropes substituting for real human foibles. And the basic idea that Field is so ‘unhip’ she’s ‘hip’ just isn’t enough to explain all her new relationships; her character runs out of steam halfway thru the pic. (Showalter tries compensating with a forced hoarding addiction subplot, presumably for some third-act catharsis/resolution.) A shame, since the lack of polish from the film’s small budget offers lots of believable texture and the leads are awfully good, though with extremely variable support. Showalter may simply be too facile for his own good.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Bet you can quickly think of a dozen senior guy gets much younger gal (if only for a while) titles. Now, try and come up with an example where the genders are reversed.

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