For Reel

The Big Sick (2017)
August 14, 2017, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michael Showalter
4.5 Stars
The Big Sick.jpgPlaying as a modern variant of the comedy of remarriage, The Big Sick is a romantic comedy where the conflicts don’t feel so much like imposing conveniences but rather stem naturally from the character dynamics. Kumail Nanjiani’s efforts to win his ex-girlfriend back don’t come from grand romantic gestures or the resolution of a misunderstanding, but rather they play as an excruciating waiting game. Sure, he can win an uneasy alliance with his ex’s parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, both terrific), but both of them acknowledge their daughter’s relationship with him is not a certainty. For being a comedy about panic, neuroses, and fractured marriages, the film is surprisingly quiet and earnest in its best moments. Hunter’s explosion at a stand-up show is a fine scene in itself, but the circumstances that begin the night as well as her shame in the fallout is what makes the film really human. As Emily, the comatose ex-girlfriend, Zoe Kazan makes the most of her awake scenes, with her frustrations with Kumail being understandable and admirable despite the audience’s affection for his character. Her hold on the movie becomes clear when Kumail and her parents navigate her apartment while she’s in the hospital—it’s a lovely, affecting sequences, where the unlikely trio realizes that the one thing they have in common is their love for Emily.


Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)
April 10, 2016, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michael Showalter
3.5 Stars
Hello My Name is DorisA decade after his feature directorial debut, sketch comedy mainstay Michael Showalter once again explores the mechanical workings of a romantic comedy by subverting one element and making nearly everything else the same. The familiar trappings are there—a quirky, shy heroine (Sally Field) quickly falls in love with a co-worker (Max Greenfield) at the office, leading to a myriad of awkward encounters before the they find themselves investing in a relationship almost by happenstance. And yet, that the woman of this narrative could be his mother challenges not only the audience’s understanding of her character’s traits, but the perspective towards the relationship itself. When the “manic pixie dream girl” is a senior, she moves more into “sad old woman” territory than one with admirable quirks. Showalter cleverly discusses how the younger generation uses Doris (Field) as an accessory that validates their own ironic sense of fashion, although sometimes he seems suffocated by the mechanics of a screenplay wherein audiences will be able to predict not only what happens next, but exactly when that story beat will happen. This is the sort of film where a character is a hoarder only because it will lead to a montage where she separates from her baggage. And yet, Field is a breath of fresh air in a genre that begs for these reinventions, and Greenfield has a good chemistry with her as the well-meaning, if incredibly aloof love interest.