In a weekend when “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” made nearly $18 million, the real romantic comedy find is “Hello, My Name is Doris,” a delightful diversion that showcases Sally Field. It’s a film as cute and cuddly as its lead, proving that the 69-year-old actress still has the charm and charisma that made her a two-time Oscar winner.
Field plays the title character, an older woman who has been living with her mother in a cluttered house and basically shut away from the rest of the world, with the exception of some interaction with co-workers.
After the death of her mother, Doris finds a new spark in the form of a much younger new co-worker named John (Max Greenfield). With a self-help seminar serving as inspiration, Doris concocts a plan to romantically pursue John and discovers more about herself in the process.
Director Michael Showalter, who co-wrote the script with Laura Terruso, doesn’t stray too far from the romantic comedy formula, but it is refreshing to see a film where the lead is a 60-something woman (much like last year’s highly underrated “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”)
Even when the script gets a little too cutesy, Field makes it go down easy. Her likability makes it easy to root for Doris and feel her pain in some of the film’s more dramatic moments. One of those moments is perhaps one of the film’s strongest scenes, a breakdown when confronted by family members about her years of hoarding with her mother.
“Doris” also features Tyne Daly as Doris’ best friend and small parts for Beth Behrs and Natasha Lyonne to name a few, but this is Field’s picture. She makes “Doris” work, putting everything she has on screen. It’s a great reminder of how good Field can be and a much better attempt at the genre than “Greek Wedding.”
Also opening this week
Another film that arrives in Bowling Green this week after a limited opening last weekend is the Hank Williams biopic “I Saw the Light” (C-).
Originally scheduled to be released at the end of 2015 just in time for Oscar season, the film was dumped into an early spring release – usually not the greatest sign of confidence from a studio.
And while Tom Hiddleston does a very good job as Williams, the warning signs of the release switch prove to be merited. This is a film that feels more like a first draft than the finished product.
“I Saw the Light” focuses on Williams’ rise and ultimate death at age 29 after years of abusing alcohol and painkillers, beginning with his marriage to first wife Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen).
If you are familiar with Williams life story, “I Saw the Light” brings nothing new to the table. Its story sometimes feels like big craters are missing from the narrative, with writer/director Marc Abraham lacking focus from scene to scene.
There are so many fascinating aspects to Williams’ life that could have been explored. There is his rough lifestyle and womanizing demeanor and how he practically re-invented country music. While these elements are introduced in “I Saw the Light” they are never fully realized, leaving viewers looking for insight into the singer’s life (like my son who saw the film with me), a little unsure of all the intricate details of rise and ultimate demise.
For his part Hiddleston hits all the right notes as Williams, even down to his perfect re-creation of the singer’s stage persona. Hiddleston’s performance desperately tries to keep “I Saw the Light” afloat, but it can’t overcome some serious problems in the film’s screenplay and direction.
“I Saw the Light” is rated R for some language and brief sexuality/nudity and opens Friday at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12.