As a child, I got quite a bit of enjoyment from watching Sally Field’s face become animated with emotion – chiefly, in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” (That dinner scene. Priceless.) Michael Showalter’s “Hello, My Name Is Doris” recognizes her gift for telegraphing emotion and amplifies it. The problem is that he allows scarcely any of her considerable talents to shine through.
As Doris Miller, a quiet accountant and caregiver for her late mother, Field’s performance is half authentic emotion and half GIF-able moments. Whatever humanity might be in the script for Doris gets squandered by her overly burlesqued acting that turns the character into more of a joke than an object of our sympathy and affection.
After her mother’s funeral in the first scene, Doris’ attention can go in any number of directions. (Her brother and sister-in-law hope she will clear out all the items she hoards away.) She choose to invest her energy in pursuing a much younger co-worker, Max Greenfield’s John Fremont, for whom she has the hots. Far too often, his boyish good looks reduce her to little more than a fantasizing teenage girl. That’s not to say all women of a certain age on screen must conform to a narrow model of proscribed behavior, but she is the joke of the scene far more often than she is the heart of it.
The flimsiness of character’s personality is only hampered by the silly, cliche-riddled script of “Hello, My Name Is Doris.” Bonus points for not having the slightest idea of how Facebook works in 2016. Field deserves something better to work with for her first step into the leading woman spotlight in quite some time. C+ /