Hello, My Name Is Doris is a whimsical misfit comedy that could have formed the basis for a pretty funny sitcom. It’s precious and cute, full of clever observations about what it means to be “out-of-step” with the world. Meet Doris Miller (Sally Field) a sixty something never-been-married accountant . She has spent her life taking care of her sick mother at the expense of her own happiness. She continues to work but appears close to the age of retirement, if not past it. Compared with the similarity of age and style of her budding co-workers, she sticks out. She’s “quirky”. Enter handsome new office art director John Fremont (Max Greenfield). He’s a much younger man in his 30s. She’s smitten but shy. However after she gets inspiration from a self-help guru (Peter Gallagher), she decides to pursue him.
Director Michael Showalter is an actor/comedian who first came to recognition in the early 90s as a cast member on the sketch comedy series The State on MTV. He also wrote and starred in Wet Hot American Summer. Hello, My Name Is Doris is brimming with vignettes that poke fun at her awkward demeanor. There’s a scene where John helps Doris pump up the exercise ball while she’s sitting on it at her cubicle. The scene is a visual riot of physical comedy. On several occasions her romantic escapades are suddenly revealed to be nothing more than a fantasy. I was never fooled for a second by these developments because the chronicle stays firmly rooted in a grounded sensibility. Occasionally it can be cruelly serious. At one point, Doris’ oddly insensitive therapist (Elizabeth Reaser) arrives to help her get rid of the excess junk she has accumulated over the years. Doris’ subsequent breakdown is heartbreaking.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is one of those life affirming character studies that begs you embrace it like a warm hug. The idea of a senior citizen aggressively pursuing a man half her age is a bit incongruous. The fact that John truly enjoys her company keeps her optimism flowing. The script clearly wants us to laugh at her delusional behavior. In the hands of Sally Field, the individual is rather delightful. Actress Tyne Daly plays Roz, Doris’ best friend. Roz isn’t afraid to dish out some tough love truth. She’s pretty wonderful in her part too. The problem is, Doris veers a little too close to pathos for comfort. Her crush develops into something so intense that her unmarried hoarder personality veers into the uncomfortably pitiful. There’s a thin line between love and stalking. Nevertheless, it’s an absolute joy to see the veteran actress, who turns 70 this fall, be the star of a movie. Sally Field is fantastic and the #1 reason why I still heartily recommend this film.