Sally Field has gone for too long without a leading role, and I’m so happy that she’s back front and center in “Hello, My Name is Doris.” Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”) wrote and directed the film, allowing Field to shine in a comedic turn in a story that’s part funny and part sad. “Hello, My Name is Doris” is a comedy that deals with growth and moving on, but one that ultimately stays on the shallow end and doesn’t take a deeper plunge.
Doris Miller (Field) is a frumpy 69-year-old woman who has just endured the loss of her mother. Having lived with her and taken care of her, Doris is left alone and lonely. She takes the ferry from Staten Island everyday to get to her job in Manhattan–an accounting job she’s had for more than a couple of decades. Doris is a devout hoarder, an extreme problem that’s worrying to her impatient brother (Stephen Root) and his wife (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and have Doris meet with a psychologist about.
At work, she meets the handsome, sweet, and much younger John Fremont (Max Greenfield). Doris becomes deeply and utterly infatuated with him, like a schoolgirl with a crush, even going so far as to create a fake Facebook account so as to add him as a friend and unhealthily keep tabs on his activities outside of work. John humors her, treating her with a kindness that others at her employ have never thought to bestow. The two forge a friendship, but her growing possession of him after finding out he has a girlfriend (Beth Behrs), leads her to face some hard truths about herself and her life.
The movie has a lot of throwaway comedy hijinks involving Doris trying to get John’s attention that are played for laughs, but she’s never the butt of the joke. You won’t find any old jokes or comedy at the expense of Field’s character, which is refreshing and rare. Although most of the film is shallow (not that it’s a terrible thing in this case), there are small moments here and there that really allow Doris to open up and show her more vulnerable side. Because as much as it’s funny to see Doris fawn over John or her awkward social interactions with most everyone, she isn’t some unintelligent woman either and her character isn’t belittled. This allows Field to be quirky and creates more of a multi-dimensional character overall, at which Field excels.
Showalter isn’t a stranger to offbeat comedies and “Hello, My Name is Doris” is just that. It doesn’t always hit the right notes, never quite straying into anything deeper than what it presents, and the film spends too long on the unrequited love between Doris and John, but it has a certain and distinct charm that’s hard to escape. It sees Field back in a leading role and proves that there are still interesting stories to tell about women who are “too old” by Hollywood standards.
"Hello, My Name is Doris" never quite strays into anything deeper than what it presents, and the film spends too long on the unrequited love between Doris and John, but it has a certain and distinct charm that's hard to escape.