I never much cared for Sally Field in her '70s/'80s heyday. Her acting was too corny for my tastes. But lately, watching her in interviews, I've found her to be quite an interesting person. There's also a part of me that's forever 65 years old, which is why I can enjoy senior-oriented fare like Last Chance Harvey and The Intern. So with this in mind, I took a chance on the indie comedy Hello, My Name Is Doris.
Field stars as the title character, a sixtysomething spinster who clerks at a youth-oriented design firm in Brooklyn. (It's explained that she's there because she's a holdover from the company's previous incarnation. Not totally believable, but okay, fine.) Preternaturally awkward, with a unique taste in clothes that hovers between totally clueless and oddly hip, Doris is recovering from the death of her mother, with whom she'd lived on Staten Island for decades. While her brother and his nasty wife urge Doris to clean out her house and sell it – Doris, like her mother, is a hoarder – she becomes inspired by a self-empowerment seminar... to pursue her company's handsome new art director (Max Greenfield), a man half her age.
First, the bad news: the script, by Showalter and Laura Terruso (based on Terruso's short film), is fairly predictable, especially concerning a subplot in which Doris creates a phony Facebook profile to spy on her young crush. Some of the gags are obvious, and Doris' hoarding is unusually clean – there's artful clutter, but no real filth. With a likable but bland Greenfield leading a supporting cast of TV actors, the periphery of Hello, My Name Is Doris belongs in generic indie comedy land.
But then you have Sally Field. She is by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, cute as a button, bitter, lost, and embarrassing (in a good way). This film belongs entirely to her, and she owns it from start to finish. As Doris slowly finds herself while chasing this impossible dream, I really found myself rooting for her. It's a complex role, especially for such a lighthearted comedy. It may even be my favorite work of Field's – though admittedly, I haven't watched Norma Rae in a long time.
In short, Hello, My Name Is Doris is nothing amazing, but it's funny and sweet. See it for Field's performance, shrug off the cliches in the script, and have a good time. If your mom can handle the occasional F-bomb and sex joke, take her too.