Mike at the Movies

Hello, My Name Is Doris (R) ****

This is a feast for Sally Field fans. She is Doris Miller, a 60-something drudge at a company filled with “up and comers” as evidenced by the replacement of all work chairs with large blue rubber balls. Doris is on the verge of replacement as well but, as she is reminded by a sleazy inspirational speaker, Willy Williams (Peter Gallagher), “‘Impossible’ is actually two words: ‘I’m Possible.’”

Doris takes this to heart and falls in love immediately with John Fremont (Max Greenfield). He is several decades younger but anything is possible, right? His favorite rock group is “Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winter,” and he convinces her to go to a concert. When she asks what she should wear, her best friend, Roz (Tyne Daly), replies “Do you have anything neon?”

Doris wears neon and appeals to the weird side of Goya. (Is there another side?) He asks her to appear on the cover of their new album, and she’s “in.”

The gang around Goya is far out. Doris becomes, for her, far out in dress and behavior, but her simplicity of character sets her up for great disappointments that a wise audience anticipates. After John appears with Brooklyn (Beth Behrs), Doris reacts badly, sabotages John’s web page and screws up big time. Even her shrink, Dr. Edwards (Elizabeth Reaser in a beautifully nuanced performance), can’t bail her out, though she tries an intervention to stop Doris’s hoarding. Wearing rubber gloves, she supervises choices of things into “trash, save or donate” piles and, predictably, everything trends toward the “save” pile and Doris loses her patience.

In the meantime, Doris wants more. She tells Roz, “There’s more to life than going to church meetings and stealing cheese!” The turning point in Doris’ life and character happens during an Orphan Thanksgiving dinner hosted by John. His unveiling after the dinner is brutal but necessary. It caps off a marvelous performance.

This is a thoroughly predictable film that is acceptable because it’s honest. Less intelligent direction would have made this sappy and stupid. Instead, it’s sharp, funny and moving. The “R” rating is somewhat suspect because, other than a couple of “F” bombs, there is little else to deserve such a harsh rating.

The Boss (R) ****

Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, have teamed up again for one of spring’s funniest films. He wrote and directed, she stars. Like most of McCarthy’s efforts, this one combines frequently profane dialogue, funny pratfalls and a plot that is far from simple or sane.

McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, financial guru and former lover of the over-acting Peter Dinklage as Renault, formerly Ron, also a former partner of hers who turns her in for insider trading. After a relatively mild five-month sentence, Michelle is out again, only totally destitute. She is forced to live with her ex-assistant, the radiant Kristen Bell as Claire, and her daughter, Rachel (Michelle keeps calling her “Raquel”).

The physical scenes are again the funniest in the movie, starting early with a strange mouth-shaper so Darnell can get her teeth whitened. The dialogue is indecipherable during the scene with the mouth-shaper in, but still roaringly funny. Another scene that got guffaws from the crowd was Michelle’s attempt to train a pull-out sofa. McCarthy’s signature move of putting her leg up on a wall, in this case to tan it, is used again.

Darnell is soon on the business rebound, organizing Rachel’s Dandelion Troop (sort of like profane Brownies) into “Darnell’s Darlings,” selling Claire’s brownies so successfully that they open a factory. Re-enter Renault, who buys the factory and wrecks relationships with Darnell, Claire and Rachel, all for reasonable, if unfortunate reasons. Because of Darnell’s business expertise (“When the houses are nice, we double the price” and “Buy my brownies or I’ll kill you”), the company thrives and Helen, the leader of the Dandelions, and Darnell engage each other’s forces in a fantastic and funny street fight that leaves a whole neighborhood in tatters.

There is one long, classic scene concerning the shape and condition of Claire’s breasts before she goes out on a date that is so funny a lot of dialogue is lost. Darnell babysits Rachel for the date and provides “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” for the entertainment! There are places where the pace lags—a familiar failing of McCarthy films, but there are more laughs than usual and the pace is madcap throughout. This is a fun night for adults only because of language, and it is a decent script other than the profanity.

Demolition (R) ****

This is a movingly philosophical film about the handling of grief in all its forms, parenting, truth-telling and principle. Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his wife (Heather Lind) in an accident and later realizes it didn’t impact him much at all, though he still keeps flashing images of her to himself. He admits that he didn’t really know her all that well. This does not help his career since his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), is the CEO of the investment firm he works for and is not impressed with Davis’s tailspin after the funeral.

While waiting for his wife to die in the ICU, Davis tries to order some M&Ms. When they don’t descend, he sends long letters to the vending company, gets in touch with Karen (Naomi Watts), their customer service representative, and they begin a strange, convoluted relationship. This does not make Carl (C.J. Wilson), a co-worker of Karen, very happy because he figures he has the inside track on making her happy again after a long time alone with her son, Chris.

Judah Lewis is Chris, a young man of indeterminate sexual identity. Davis gets him involved in various events, including the demolition of Davis’ beautiful modern house that he shared with Julia. Somehow, things get out of control in several areas and we are forced to wonder if demolition of something you shared with someone else can make you forget them. Davis pretty much demolishes everything that used to mean something to him and he starts a return to normal only when it turns out that Julia was pregnant at the time of her death.

In the meantime, Chris is peaking in terms of sexual confusion and even asks Davis if he thinks he could be gay. Davis’ equivocal answer doesn’t help. Gyllenhaal is his normal moody, mercurial self with many charming moments but several bonehead ones as well, Watts’ pot-smoking casualness does not help either and altogether the movie sort of destroys its characters. As Davis explains, “Destruction and devastation—that’s my trade.” Very powerful stuff, too heavy for the young set and too depressing for the sad.

Hardcore Henry (R) 0

This film has the distinction of being the worst movie I have ever seen, displacing even the formerly impossible to out-smell “Crank” with Jason Statham. This one stars literally nobody as the lead is a character, like the film, bereft of memory, coordination, personality and even parts of his anatomy. We know he has super powers from his actions but the rest of him is a cypher, as is the purpose of the entire enterprise.

The Russian cast mostly just spreads blood, encouraged by the Russian writer and director, Ilya Naishuller. The movie looks like a bad video game with bodies strewn at random everywhere there is space.

If you’re sucked into this garbage, it’s entirely your own fault. If you are into more “worsts” than one, the performance of Danila Kozlovsky is so terrible it almost makes you forget the rest of the film.

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