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.
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.