#REVIEW: “HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
After losing her mother, Doris (Sally Field) is not sure of her next move. But she instantly becomes smitten after meeting her office’s new art director John (Max Greenfield). With the encouragement of a self-help guru, Doris begins to pursue a romantic relationship, despite their large age difference.
In a passing glance, you would easily mistake Hello, My Name is Doris as a very clearly indie romantic comedy. It appeals to a specific age and gender demographic, and it stars an Oscar-winning lead actress who usually headlines much larger scale Films. But this does a disservice to the Film’s darker and more dramatic themes of loss, regret and psychological distress – which can appeal to just about everyone. Co-writer/director Michael Showalter and co-writer Laura Terruso (adapting her own Short Film) are very aware of this quagmire, and do their best to make sure both sides are played equally. It leads to a lot of awkward moments (both intentional and unintentional), and some very questionable motivations. They try to be as authentic as possible, but there are many disingenuous and baffling moments scattered throughout the film.
That said, Field is absolutely fabulous as Doris. It has been a very long time since she has played a character this genuinely fun, but you would never know from how easily she slips into the role (although I am sure the make out heavy fantasy scenes with Greenfield help immensely). Field brings a real poignancy to each and every scene, simultaneously being hysterical and downright heartbreaking. There is a real humanity alive inside of Doris, and I feel like any other actress would likely have just phoned this performance in because of its silly nature. But Field takes the role very seriously, and her heartfelt approach is simply wonderful.
The supporting cast features an almost alarming number of current TV vets (including 2 Broke Girls’ Beth Behrs, Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and SNL’s Kyle Mooney), but very few get any real time to shine. Greenfield (himself from New Girl) does a great job playing off of Field, subverting typical Film stereotypes. We never truly get to know John fully as a character, but he makes us feel for him just as much as she does. Yet the Film’s best asset is actually Tyne Daly as Doris’ best friend Roz. She is the atypical friend character, but she nails all of the Film’s best lines and acts as the moral compass of the project. The Film could have only benefitted from using her more often.
Hello, My Name is Doris is a strange title for an even stranger Film. I keep wanting to compare it to Hal Ashby’s seminal classic Harold & Maude, but the filmmakers spend too much time getting caught up in the silliness of what’s happening and miss out on being as authentic as they intended. Thankfully, they have a masterful lead performance from Field and a great supporting turn from Greenfield to make up for it. I may not be the target demographic by any stretch, but despite its faults, I did have fun watching Doris.
Sony Pictures Canada release HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS in select theatres on Friday, April 22, 2016.