Hello, My Name is Doris stars Sally Field as an office drone/cat lady/hoarder in her sixties who falls for a man thirty years younger, played by Max Greenfield.
How did you react to that sentence? Did you smile, or wince? Were you intrigued, or did you roll your eyes? I'm asking because the movie is exactly what it sounds like, so the best way to decide whether to invest your time and money in it is to think about what that sentence sounds like to you.
I thought the premise was uninspired and kind of creepy, but I've learned to give Field the benefit of the doubt. She has received great praise over her 50+ year career for charging into roles and finding a way to make them work. It's not always pretty. When backed into a corner, she sometimes reaches into her bag of tics and pulls out a mannerism from one of the 16 kids she played in the multiple-personalities drama, Sybil.
Mind you, I'm not complaining much. I appreciate her determination and her willingness to do whatever is necessary to make a scene work. Sometimes her choices are dazzling. Other times ... well, we don't cringe at her, we cringe with her.
Remember when she won her second Best Actress Oscar for the 1984 film, Places in the Heart? She wrapped her acceptance speech by gushing, "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" It was intended as a comic reference to dialog from her other Oscar winning film, Norma Rae, but most people didn't get it and made fun of her. A lot. So how did Field deal with all the jokes at her expense? By repeating the line in a lucrative TV commercial.
And with that I conclude the "Why I Like Sally Field" part of this essay.
Max Greenfield – Schmidt from New Girl — plays John Fremont, the new hire. Greenfield is a charmer possessed with a blend of hunkiness and dorkiness that makes it easy to understand why mousey Doris Miller (Field) would be drawn to him.
Doris needs something new following the death of her mother, whom she tended to for decades. A motivational speaker (Peter Gallagher) inspires her to take risks and try new things. The granddaughter (Isabella Acres) of her best friend (a high-spirited Tyne Daly) helps her research John on Facebook, where she constructs a fake persona and befriends him.
Armed with information, she "accidentally" runs into John at a concert by his favorite electronica act. John, who has a girlfriend (Beth Behrs), finds Doris and her vintage outfit adorable, as do the other concertgoers, along with the band's singer, who invites her to be on the cover of the group's next album. Yes, it's that kind of movie.
The B-story deals with efforts by Doris' brother Todd (Stephen Root, a great actor woefully underused) and his nasty wife (Wendi McLendon-Covey) to address the hoarding issue. It gets ugly, prompting Field to reenact a scene from Sybil.
Director Michael Showalter cowrote the screenplay with Laura Terruso (the movie is adapted from her short film, Doris and the Intern). The result is uneven. McLendon-Covey's character seems like a leftover from an earlier, meaner, draft of the story. Fantasy sequences interspersed through the film are mildly intrusive, though I enjoyed the transformed cover of the romance paperback on Doris' tabletop. A running series of hipster jokes occasionally pay off, though most of them seem to be there so that Showalter and Terruso can look hip for their friends.
Hello My Name is Doris is a modest little comedy-drama that is beautifully cast. It's all about Sally Field and Max Greenfield. And trusting your instincts.