HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (2016, Michael Showalter)
With a trailer that recalls the toxic Robert De Niro-starring travesty from last year (called THE INTERN, and it doesn’t help that this is based on a short film called “Doris & the Intern”) and a similar premise of old-person-working-at-hotshot-Manhattan-fashion-company-amongst-Millennials, this movie seemed dead in the water. But whereas De Niro was one of the greatest actors on the planet 40 years ago, when Field was just The Flying Nun, it’s pretty clear now that Field has aged way better. She owns this movie through and through, and has a couple scenes that pack a major punch.
Ingenious comic talent Michael Showalter (of The State and its many offshoots) has only directed one other feature film, the brilliant rom-com satire THE BAXTER. And while HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS is far more straight-forward and sincere, the hints of satirical intelligence are here in Showalter’s rhythms and script (which he co-wrote with Laura Terruso, auteur of the Doris short). Peter Gallagher’s self-help guru, for example, is a cliché now (making fun of these guys is shooting fish in a barrel), but Showalter delivers some zings only he could dream up. And Jack Antonoff’s cameo as a pretentious hipster electropop artist delivers the laughs too. But mostly, the script feels like a padded-out version of a short story, following some obvious beats and going nowhere too unexpected. Still, Field makes everything go down easy — she turns a clownish character into a three dimensional human being with a lifetime of pain. Like Lily Tomlin did with GRANDMA, Field proves that Hollywood’s insistence on keeping its male stars around forever while ignoring their female counterparts is a policy that’s costing us myriad terrific leading roles.