The premise for the new film Hello, My Name Is Doris sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie special–a woman of a certain age falls for a man who is thirty years her junior. Would you watch this movie? I probably wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t already known that the lead is the remarkable Sally Field (of Norma Rae and Gidget and The Flying Nun, among many, many others), and the love interest is the charming and hilarious Max Greenfield (of New Girl fame). I was hooked, and I think you’ll be hooked, too.
The film, written by Laura Terruso and Michael Showalter (who also wrote Wet Hot American Summer), starts at the funeral of Doris Miller’s mother. Doris, who is a 60-ish Staten Islander, has spent her life caring for her elderly mother and, as a result, has missed out on many life milestones. After her mother’s death, Doris becomes totally smitten with John Fremont (Greenfield), the new art director at her company, after he shows her a moment of tenderness on a crowded elevator. This crush–for lack of a better word–leads into a series of hysterical daydream fantasies, where Doris imagines John throwing himself at her in increasingly ridiculous situations.
Doris ends up taking the advice of her friend Roz’s 13 year-old granddaughter, and creates a fake Facebook page to figure out John’s interests. Before long, Doris is attending a Baby Goya & the Nuclear Winters concert (Baby Goya is played by Jack Antonoff, of Fun. and Bleachers!) because it’s John’s favorite band. John is endlessly charmed by Doris’s enthusiasm for the scene and her “original hipster” vibe, and Doris mistakes his admiration of her for attraction. She begins to spend more time with him, until learning he has a girlfriend, at which point a catfishing incident and a Thanksgiving dinner threaten to expose Doris.
The B-plot for this film revolves around Doris’s brother, Todd, and his awful wife trying to get Doris to sell their mother’s house on Staten Island. From the beginning credits, you see that Doris has a very serious hoarding problem, a problem that she inherited from her elderly mother. At the urging of her brother, Doris begins to see a therapist (played by the brilliant Elizabeth Reaser) who is mystified by her adorable patient.
As Doris continues to pursue John, her loved ones becomes increasingly worried for her mental stability. In one moment, when Todd comes over to try to help Doris clean her house, Field pushes through the script with a deeply moving outburst and ensuing monologue about how her life didn’t turn out how she expected and how she knows that. Despite the comedic nature of the film, this scene is by far my favorite, showing what Sally Field does best: communicate.
Hello My Name Is Doris is showing in theaters now! Go see it!