Hello, My Name Is Doris ***

Sally Field shines in this delightful dramedy aimed at an older crowd.

Is it worth $10? Yes

Sally Field is a national treasure. The two-time Oscar winner* has been a fixture on movie and television screens since her career began in the 1960s, ranging from her debut as “Gidget” on TV to her Oscar-nominated turn as Mary Todd Lincoln in “Lincoln” (2012). Yes Sally, we do really like you.

She’s currently starring in “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” and as expected she’s a trip. She plays the title character, an eccentrically dressed sixty-something whose life has largely passed her by. For years she lived with and cared for her now-deceased mother, all the while hoarding insignificant belongings and never marrying. Her friends Roz (Tyne Daly, hilarious) and Val (Caroline Aaron) are loving and supportive, which helps.

She works in data entry in New York City. The new guy at work, John (Max Greenfield), is twenty-something, attractive, and easily likable. Doris develops a crush. And after attending a self-help seminar full of platitudes like “There’s seven days in the week, and someday isn’t one of them,” and “It’s ‘I’m possible,’ not ‘Impossible,’” Doris feels inspired. But it’s not a professional aspiration, or a personal goal to clean the house or settle issues with her brother (Stephen Root) and his meddlesome wife (Wendi McClendon-Covey). No, her inspiration is much bolder than that: She’s going to get John to fall in love with her.

Much of what follows in director Michael Showalter’s film is Doris going out of her way to try to get John to notice her romantically, which includes discovering how to cyber stalk via Facebook with the help of Roz’s granddaughter (Isabella Acres). Because of Field’s warmth and innocence the romantic longing comes across as charming (I doubt we’d say the same if it were an older man pursuing a younger woman). Doris’ daydreams, and the looks she gives John’s girlfriend Brooklyn (Beth Behrs), are priceless, and Field’s performance strikes just the right note of pity mixed with earnestness, which makes her easy to root for.

Though this is a comedy at heart, there are dramatic moments that catch you by surprise but work well within the context of the story. You see, at her core Doris is a sad figure, insecure and looking for love that no one in his or her right mind thinks could be reciprocated. John by no means leads her on, yet she’s delusional; one wonders if she ever stopped to think what an actual relationship with John would be like, and how they’d work as a couple. She is old enough to be his grandmother, after all. Regardless, because Field captures our favor early on we root for Doris, bad decisions and all.

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” is a cute movie, a feel-good lark targeted at an older crowd in the mood for a nice story. It’s not all that memorable, but it’s good for a smile.

Did you know?
*Field won Best Actress Oscars for “Norma Rae” (1979) and “Places In The Heart” (1984).

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