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Sally Field: Likable as Ever as ‘Doris’

I’ve always been a Sally Field fan, so I’m happy to see her in a starring vehicle at this stage of her career. Hello, My Name is Doris is a sweet if uneven character study about a dowdy woman who develops a crush on a young coworker.

Field has reinvented herself more times than any other actress or star I can think of. With this film she takes on the role of a spinster (to use an outmoded term) who still lives in the house where she grew up in Staten Island, New York, having cared for her elderly mother until her recent death. She takes the ferry to work every day in Manhattan, where she is a bookkeeper at a youthful fashion company. Her coworkers are pleasant enough but maintain an arm’s-length relationship with her, as she is something of an oddball.

Peter Gallagher-Tyne Daly-Sally Field-Doris

Photo by Aaron Epstein – Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Enter handsome Max Greenfield (whom you may know from Veronica Marsor New Girl) as the firm’s new art director. He is the first person to actually pay attention to Doris, which fuels her fantasies about having a romantic relationship with the much-younger man. This assertiveness (although mostly lodged inside her head) is fueled by a self-help seminar led by Peter Gallagher, in an amusing cameo, and manipulated by the 13-year-old daughter of her best friend (Tyne Daly), who introduces Doris to the wonders of Facebook.

There is much to like about this film, so I am willing to tolerate its flaws and shifts in tone. Writer-director-performer Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer, Michael and Michael Have Issues) collaborated on the screenplay with Laura Terruso, who first told this story in a short film. But there is no question what makes the movie work as well as it does: Sally Field. She is completely believable as a 60-something introvert who has become a hoarder and homebody who is highly resistant to change. Yet she is willing to embark on a bold new adventure for the sake of her new heartthrob, as we see in the movie’s most whimsical and enjoyable sequences.

Hello, My Name is Doris may not win Field a third Academy Award, but it will certainly please her many admirers…like me.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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