Sally Field is so good as Doris Miller that you don’t know whether to love, hate or feel sorry for the sixtysomething running from her home on Staten Island to the office in Brooklyn. And what makes Hello, My Name Is Doris Miller so darn interesting is that it seems perfectly natural to do all of the above at various points of the part-comedy, part-drama directed by Michael Showalter, and written by Showalter and Laura Terruso based on a short film by Terruso.
Miller is a shy data entry clerk in a bustling bouquet firm, a holdover from the days when she may have been called a paper-pusher. Her younger co-workers seem to like her well-enough, though they seem to make not much of an effort to, well, do much of anything with her. And that may be fine with her until her world gets turned upside down in several ways. First, the mother she’s cared for her entire life, building up quite a collection of unneeded stuff in that Staten Island house, passes away. And then a new and much younger art director, played by Max Greenfield, transfers in from the Malibu office, transfers in an catches her eye.
Doris clumsily attempts to catch the eye of this John Fremont, even daydreaming of success after attending a motivational clinic with her bestie, played by Tyne Daly. Roz’s 13-year-old grand-daughter gives her some Facebook lessons, including inventing a fake page, to help her in the chase.
One thing leads to another, an unlikely friendship flowers, and John puts out signs … or maybe Doris just wants it to be so. Anyway, coping with a semi-mean brother (Stephen Root) and truly cruel sister-in-law (Wendi McLendon-Covey who really, really want her out of the Staten Island house doesn’t help her mental state much, and Field handles that angle with great depth as well.
But it’s the age-difference romance at the core, and Field’s mastery of all the emotions that entails for Doris to even attempt to ride that rollercoaster.
The small handful of folks watching the late Sunday afternoon show in the Regal Cinemas’ smallest theater in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA along with my dear wife Karen and I held our breath together as Doris eventually tried her hardest to make things work for all involved. Not all fun and games, no, but a great part for Field, for sure.
What’s your favorite Sally Field movie, and why? Would you believe a sixtysomething woman and twentysomething man together in a movie like this? Would you think it more believable if the genders were reversed?