“Spunky” never dies. It just hides its liver spots, dons spinster glasses and never lets the strain that maintaining “perky”past retirement age show.
Sally Field brings a bubbly, misdirected vitality to “Hello, My Name is Doris,” a cute better-late-than-never romance tailor-made for her talents and lifelong image.
A flippant blurb for it might be “Granny Gidget Gets Busy,” except the teeny bopper of Field’s TV-youth lived and loved. A lot. And Doris plainly hasn’t.
She’s a legacy hire at a New York apparel company who has lived her whole life in the house she grew up in, an unassuming, cluttered two-storey on Staten Island. She’s taken the ferry in to work every day for decades, coming home each night to look after her mother and a Persian cat. The only sign of life in her is her wildly colorful wardrobe.
But her mother died. And knitting and the occasional gals-night-out with her widowed pal Roz (Tyne Daly) isn’t going to lift her spirits. The cute 20something new to her office, John (Max Greenfield) is just eye candy she’s never going to be able to sample.
A YMCA lecture changes all that. Peter Gallagher is perfectly cast as a charismatic self-help guru, author of “I’m Possible.” As in, “There’s no such thing as IMPOSSIBLE.” He tells her,”I’M possible!…Fear is just another four-letter word that begins with F.”
Dowdy, ditzy Doris figures What the F? She sets out to win the attentions of a man one third her age.
She watches John’s every move, gets Roz’s teen granddaughter (Isabella Acres, cute) to help her set up a fake Facebook account (handy for stalking), and starts putting herself in his path — at techno-pop concerts and the like. And John seems charmed and surprised, even if he never quite gets that she’s “into” him.
“You’re a baller, Doris. Straight up.”
“Doris,” based on a short film by screenwriter Laura Terruso, is cute crossing into cutesie and cloying at times. Doris, with her loud, garish bag-lady fashion sense and lack of irony, fits right in with the emo-techno-“healer/maker” hipsters of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. She could be their queen. A lot of characters have to pretend not to see the obvious for this misplaced crush to feel believable. Plenty of moments make you wince for Doris.
Meanwhile, her peers Roz, her brother (Stephen Root) and the shrink (Elizabeth Reaser) the brother and his shrill wife (Wendi McClendon-Covey) worry about Doris, how she’s kidding herself and how she’s living her life now that her reason for staying there all these years is dead and gone.
But Field is funny and empathetic and game, and when the script gives her that one, understated and poignant scene where Doris explains who she is and what she’s missed out on, she delivers 45 seconds of pure acting magic.
Every spring, Hollywood tosses a bone to filmgoers over 65, and “Doris” could be this year’s “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”It mocks the younger generation, panders to the sacrifices made by the older generation and is just racy enough to remind filmgoers that they’re not at home watching network TV.
Thanks to Field, a feisty Tyne Daly and a winning supporting cast that includes Natasha Lyonne and Beth Behrs (TV’s “2 Broke Girls”), “Doris” becomes that character you’ve ignored but shouldn’t, that movie you might’ve passed by but won’t want to.
MPAA Rating:R for language
Cast: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Stephen Root, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Peter Gallagher, Elizabeth Reaser
Credits: Directed by Michael Showalter, script by Laura Terruso and Michael Showalter. A Roadside Attractions release.
Running time: 1:30