DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DOOR TO DOOR (TV) (director/writer: Steven Schachter; screenwriter: William H. Macy; cinematographer: Jan Kiesser; editor: Paul Dixon ; music: Jeff Beal; cast: William H. Macy (Bill Porter), Kyra Sedgwick (Shelly Soomky Brady), Helen Mirren (Mrs. Irene Porter), Kathy Baker (Gladys); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Warren Carr; Warner Home Video; 2002)

 
"Gives William H. Macy a chance to display his versatility as an actor."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Door to Door is a made for TV film (TNT) that gives William H. Macy a chance to display his versatility as an actor. Macy co-wrote the script with director Steven Schachter and the 52-year-old Macy plays Bill Porter. He's a Portland, Oregon, native who was born 1931 with cerebral palsy (his condition made speech and mobility difficult) and is the only child living at home with his caring and devoted mother Irene Porter (Helen Mirren, who is 55); his salesman father is dead when we pick up the story in 1955, the year the underdog Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the dreaded New York Yankees in the World Series (talk about heavy-handed inspirational symbolism!). It's an inspirational true story of this endearing handicapped man who is determined to become a door-to-door salesman and live as full a life as possible without receiving unneeded pity. After a bumpy start with doors slammed in his face, Bill went on to enjoy a prosperous 40-year career as door-to-door salesman.

Supported by his mother Bill applied to the Fuller Brush Company in 1955 for work as a door-to-door salesman, but was not hired. He was also turned down at the Watkins Company but talks his way into the job by showing a willingness to take the salesman route no one else wanted. It's shown that through persistence, hard work and determination, he eventually becomes a legendary salesman and an inspirational figure in the community.

The film after a fast start dulls out after Bill's aphasic mother dies in the film's first part. Kyra Sedgwick tries to pick up the slack and co-stars as Bill's devoted assistant Shelly Brady, who was first hired as a student. But her part was underwritten and she's given no great personality or much to do (serves as plot device, as she shows bias against a gay couple and receives a lecture about that from Bill). Kathy Baker plays Gladys, a lonely widow alcoholic who gives the hard-pressed Bill his first sale and remains his most faithful customer. The affection and loyalty both women have for the honest and caring Bill, is what inspires him to go on winning many "salesman of the year" awards.

There's no denying that Bill is an amazing person and his story should inspire others who might feel sorry for themselves and need him as a role model. But as a picture, it lacked the dramatic fire power to hold my interest throughout.

 REVIEWED ON 8/12/2005        GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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