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Hello, My Name Is Doris - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Hello, My Name Is Doris
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Okay, so Hello, My Name Is Doris is plenty contrived. Sally Fields's Doris Miller is way more out of touch than any otherwise modern sixty-something New York woman would ever be; Max Greenfield's John Fremont is way nicer than any thirty-something guy in his position would ever be. These people don't exist in the real world. But the surprise of this movie is that its contrivances are reigned in just enough that you don't really care about these things.

Who goes to a movie like this looking for realism anyway? It's refreshing that John is such a nice guy. He's the new guy at the company where Doris works in Manhattan, a holdover from decades past before a company overhaul, now kept on as little more than a token, doing data entry. We never do find out what the hell this company does. It doesn't really matter. They're all forced to switch out their chairs for yoga balls. As if that would ever happen either. Whatever! Anyway, Doris has a ridiculous crush on him from the moment they first met, in a packed elevator. She keeps having fantasies about him at work.

There's at least a thirty year difference between these characters. It may be worth noting that if the genders were reversed, this would be creepy. Then again, Hollywood pairs men with women decades younger all the time and we're expected to take it seriously. This movie never really takes the romantic possibilities between Doris and John seriously. It does treat the characters kindly, though.

There are plenty of opportunities for John to get weirded out by Doris, and at nearly every turn, he just finds her charming. "She's a good weird, right?" he says at one point -- incidentally, to coworkers played by Orange Is the New Black's Natasha Lyonne as an almost jarringly normal young lady, Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani as a gay man, and Mad Men's Rich Sommer as a guy with a penchant for bow ties. That's hardly where the vastly recognizable cast ends here, though -- Doris's best friend Roz is Tyne Daily of Cagney & Lacey fame; her brother is character actor Stephen Root (look him up; you'll know him when you see him). I could name others but maybe we should move on.

If anyone can pull off "good weird," it's Sally Field. She's predictably wonderful in this role, making it difficult to see Doris as anyone else. It doesn't hurt that she does look damn good for a woman about to turn seventy. (Yes, Sally Field turns 70 this year.) When Roz's granddaughter creates a fake Facebook profile so Doris can cyber stalk, she conspires to run into him at a concert by his favorite EDM artist. They actually have a good time together. An unlikely but real friendship develops. Doris holds on to the deluded idea that she can spark a romance, which flies right over John's head, until the inevitable horribly awkward moment of his realization. Director and co-writer Michael Showalter handles this moment with a surprising amount of gracefulness, particularly on the part of John's reaction, which is a relief.

Hello, My Name Is Doris is just full of silly situations, veering into the requisite moments of seriousness that movies like this always require. But it has ample charms, thanks in large part to winning performances. The laughs are consistent, and if it's not making you laugh, it's making you smile. Well, except for the moments of dread that Doris is going to reach her inevitable downfall. But it never turns out as bad as you feared. Neither does it turn out at all realistically, but who cares? That's not what you come to a movie like this for anyway. And this little movie with cross-generational appeal operates on its own terms while delivering on the promise of a pleasant ninety minutes.

Sally Field and Max Greenfield are the odd not-quite-a-couple in HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS.

Overall: B+
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