Hello, My Name is Doris

Posted on March 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Sad offscreen death, wrenching emotional confrontations
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: March 18, 2016
Date Released to DVD: June 12, 2016
Amazon.com ASIN: B01F08XCAG

Copyright Roadside 2016
Copyright Roadside 2016
Thank you, Michael Showalter, for giving American treasure Sally Field a role that gives her a chance to show us not just what she is capable of but what it means to fully inhabit a character with enough sensitivity and tenderness to illuminate the world.

In the very first seconds of the film, where we meet the title character at the funeral of the mother she has spent her life caring for, we are asked to look at the kind of person we prefer to ignore. It is the funeral of the mother she has spent her life caring for, and she is bereft, not only of her mother, but of her sense of who she is and what she is in the world. She is odd and needy and repressed. She wears a jumble of mismatched clothes and a frowsy topknot of a hairpiece. She works with a bunch of brisk, hip young people who ignore her. She has a feisty best friend named Roz, played with enormous gusto by Tyne Daly. Roz is so left wing that she comforts herself about here daughter’s imprisonment for for auto theft, because she stole a fuel-efficient hybrid. And she lives in the same house she grew up in, packed full of stuff that she holds onto because of memories or because some day it might be useful. When Roz points out that her refrigerator contains packets of duck sauce that have been there since the 1970’s, Doris responds with incendiary ferocity: “IT KEEPS!”

There’s someone new in Doris’ office. His name is John Fremont (a warm and magnetic Max Greenfield). Doris, whose emotions have been on ice even longer than the duck sauce, somehow explodes with emotion when she sees him.

With her mother gone, Doris begins to have the kind of agonizing crush that most of us get over by the end of middle school. With the help of Roz’s teenage granddaughter, Doris friends John on Facebook under a pseudonym, and then uses what she learns there to make him think they have interests in common, including a band called Nuclear Winter. Doris decides to attend a Nuclear Winter performance, and like Alice through the looking glass, she finds the club an opposite world, where her thrift shop clothes are suddenly vintage and daring. She and John become friends.

Showalter has three great strengths here. First, as we saw in “Hot Wet American Summer” and the underrated “The Baxter,” he is is a master of impeccable casting. Every role, down to the smallest part, is a small gem, deep bench strength that includes Natasha Lyonne as a co-worker, Beth Behrs as the girl John dates, Elisabeth Reaser as an understanding therapist, and Stephen Root as Doris’ impatient but loving brother. Second is his willingness to combine poignancy with humor, grounding and deepening the story. But most important is Field, who is a wonder in a role that has us rooting for her as well as for Doris.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong language and sad and uncomfortable confrontations.

Family discussion: What should Todd and Doris have done when their mother got sick? Why did Doris want to hold on to one ski?

If you like this, try: Some of Fields’ other films like “Norma Rae,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Murphy’s Romance,” and “Soapdish”

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