Classic Review: Hello, My Name Is Doris (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Hello, My Name Is Doris” which originally appeared here.

Sixtysomething spinster named Doris Miller (Sally Field) attempts to woo her much younger co-worker John Freemont (Max Greenfield) after she attends a self-help seminar led by a man named Willy Williams (Peter Gallagher). To her surprise, she is soon welcomed into John’s social circle, although her new and exciting life strains her relationship with her longtime best friend Roz (Tyne Daly).

If you would like to watch a few clips of this film, click here. I’ve always been a big fan of Sally Field ever since she played Forrest Gump’s mother in Forrest Gump. She has had plenty of memorable roles before and after that and has had a successful career and this film proves that she is not done yet. From the trailer and the clips I’ve posted about previously, this new role is something that we haven’t quite seen before and that immediately peaked my interest for this film.

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Here she plays a sixtysomething single woman named Doris Miller who is attempting to woo her much younger co-worker for whom she has a crush on, John Freemont (Max Greenfield). In order to gain some more confidence, she attends a self-help seminar led by a man named Willy Williams (Gallagher). Surprisingly, she quickly becomes part of John’s social circle despite the strain it is causing on her relationship with her best friend Roz (Daly).

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While this pursuit takes up a lot of the plot, the character of Doris is not one-dimensional as there was still a lot more going on here, bringing some drama into the equation. While this could have hurt the film’s tone and momentum, it all worked here. Doris has been taking care of her mother her entire adult life and has also collected her fair share of stuff. Once her mother passes away, her brother Todd (Stephen Root) and his wife Cynthia (Wendi McLendon-Covey) call her out on her hoarding ways and want her to clear out her excess of stuff by setting her up with a hoarding specialist named Dr. Edwards (Elizabeth Reaser) in order for them to sell the house. This forces Doris to come to terms with her grief and move on with her life.

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There have been many comedies as of late which insert an older character within a generally younger environment (last time was in The Intern), hoping that the generational differences would bring some comedy. This sort of worked in The Intern with Robert De Niro but I found it worked a lot better here with Field. There’s just something about Field but her attitude and her reactions to things just worked and were all hilarious. Because of her natural charm and relatability, she just made these many interactions feel genuine and believable more so than in The Intern.

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The plot really moved forward once Doris and Roz attended the self-help seminar. This gave her the confidence to come out of her shell and gave her what she needed to really start to pursue John. This started off as a series of awkward interactions between her and John which were great. These sometimes led to hallucinations where we would see things as Doris imagines them which were never the way they actually were were hilarious. Her other antics here were great, including enlisting the help of Roz’s teenage daughter Vivian (Isabella Acres) to create a fake Facebook page to friend him which helped her learn things about him which led to some awkward questions as she tried to learn new words and how to act young. All of these were great because of the great chemistry between Field and Greenfield.

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This relationship developed further once Doris and John became friends which made her do things that were unlike her, continuing the generational juxtaposition, making her stand out. There was no greater example of this when she attended an electronic music concert in an outfit which made her stand out and get attention from clueless concert goers. I don’t want to give anything away but judging by how this film has gone so far, one can easily predict the plot and where it was going to go but I didn’t mind this as I enjoyed seeing Doris in all these new situations. I also liked how the ending of the film was left open-ended, leaving the result to the imagination.

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Besides Field and Greenfield, I thought the acting here was great. I enjoyed Tyne Daly as Doris’ fierce, wise-cracking best friend Roz. She was very funny here and had great chemistry with Field. I enjoyed their scenes together. Root and McLendon-Covey were also great here with limited screen time and sure their purpose was only for the hoarding subplot but I didn’t mind.

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Overall, this a great and smartly-written film, excelling at comedy and drama, and offering a great performance by Sally Field.

Score: 9.5/10

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