Initially this was described to me as “Sally Field’s comeback” which, frankly, I hadn’t noticed she was gone. She was in that awful Spider-man reboot, and before that…I dunno…Soapdish? This movie was also described by a clever Laemmle employe as Gidget Gets Her Groove Back which is perhaps funnier than it is true.
The story is that Doris, a 60-something year-old woman, has recently lost her mother, whom she has taken care of her entire adult life—to the exclusion of having a life of her own. She has a crush on new co-worker, the 30-something Max Greenfield (They Came Together, “The New Girl”), and begins to stalk him in a manner that would be much less charming, presumably, if the sexes were reversed.
Of course, Ms. Field has been on the other side of this sort of May-December romance, in Murphy’s Romance—though she was nearly 40 and James Garner only in his late 50s—and it was played entirely differently, as you can imagine.
Of course, except for a brief Oscar-winning stint with the unions, Sally has made her career on being sort of harmlessly cute, and it’s still a pretty winning act. And the basic gag (outside of the romance) is that Doris finds success when she spreads her wings, because in a world populated by hipsters, kitschy Long Island values and attitudes are considered sort of outré and transgressive.
In fact, the movie played with this rather expertly, and director Michael Showalter along with co-writer Laura Terruso (who herself directed a short called “Doris and the Intern” a few years ago) keep the proceedings sensitive and light. I might have enjoyed it more if they’d completely cut loose and had Doris get so caught up in the hipster world that she forgets her crush, but they kept it pretty real.
There’s a hoarding subplot: Doris’s mother was a hoarder, and Doris seems to have inherited that, much to the dismay of her brother (the great Stephen Root) and sister-in-law (“Reno 911” veteran Wendi McLendon-Covey), and this is handled in as Hollywood a fashion as you can imagine. (For example, Doris has tons of crap all over her place, but no vermin. Real hoarders have vermin. But I can’t imagine that plays well with the intended audience.)
There’s a ton of fun-poking at the hipster crowd, which is always great. I think my favorite moment was when Doris’ rival-for-young-dude’s-affections, Brooklyn (Beth Behrs, “2 Broke Girls”), invites her to her “Rooftop LGBT Knitting Circle.” She says, “I’m not a lesbian. But I feel like I can just be Brooklyn.” To which Doris replies, “Oh, honey, I feel the same way at Staples.”
It all comes to a head when Doris abandons Tyne Daly and Caroline Aaron on Thanksgiving to be with her would-be beau.
But this isn’t a high-wire act; it’s just a cute story competently performed, and it’s fine for that, even if you’re not in the intended demographic. Lotta TV people in it, so if you’re into TV, you might see a lot of people you recognize. Speaking of comebacks, two small parts in the movie are played by Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverly Hills, American Pie) and Peter Gallagher (The Idolmaker, Summer Lovers). I mean, I guess they get work and all that, but I haven’t seen them in ages, it seems like.
Bonus points to character actor Don Stark as the guy who gets the horrified look for trying to hit on a woman only 8 years older than he.