[Screen It]


(2016) (Sally Field, Max Greenfield) (R)

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Dramedy: A self-help seminar convinces a sixty-something woman to pursue her much younger male coworker.
Doris Miller (SALLY FIELD) has lived with her mother all of her life, the latter years caring for her up until her recent death. Doris' brother, Todd (STEPHEN ROOT), and his wife, Cynthia (WENDI McLENDON-COVEY), think Doris should immediately move out so they can sell the place, especially since both are disgusted by Doris' hoarding that's filled every room with all sorts of stuff.

When not working, Doris spends most of her time with her friends, Roz (TYNE DALY) and Val (CAROLINE AARON), and a self-help seminar she attends convinces her she should act on her attraction to a coworker. The only problem is that John Freemont (MAX GREENFIELD) is decades younger, and it appears Doris has mistaken his general friendliness as a sign that he's romantically attracted to her as well. Roz thinks that's nonsense, but her 13-year-old granddaughter, Vivian (ISABELLA ACRES), helps Doris set up a fake Facebook account so that she can find any common interests between the two and thus strike up conversations that might lead somewhere.

Things take an unexpected turn for Doris, however, when she learns that John has a girlfriend, Brooklyn (BETH BEHRS), who instantly befriends Doris, thus complicating matters. From that point on, and as she continues to deal with her brother and sister-in-law trying to force her to clean up and sell her house, Doris tries to figure out her life and determine if she has any realistic shot of ending up with John.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
It's interesting how many (but certainly not all) people of certain age groups view those who fall into others. The stereotype is that those under twenty view those over sixty or so as grumpy, out of touch people who don't like to have fun and should generally be ignored or avoided whenever possible (at least if they're not blood relatives). On the flip side, many older people view youngsters, especially teens, as promiscuous troublemakers who don't respect their elders, play their music too loud, and don't care about anyone but themselves and others in their immediate circles.

Outside of grandparents and uncles and aunts, I didn't really spend much time with older folk when I was young, so I don't believe I had that young person's attitude toward them. Yet, as I've grown older, I occasionally find myself having to temper the "get off my lawn!" mentality when seeing young people do the same sort of thing I did at that age.

Notwithstanding that, however, my self-view -- when not looking in the mirror, seeing pictures or videos of myself, or experiencing age-related aches and pains -- has not kept up with my ever-increasing count of laps around the sun. In other words, I don't see myself as a 52-year-old. That, of course, creates issues, such as being the viewed as the old dude trying to keep up with the young bucks, or the creepy old lech if I happen to glance at an attractive young woman who's otherwise young enough to be my daughter.

Women of my generation, however, generally aren't viewed as creepy old sexual predators in the same sort of context. But they are usually de-sexualized by society, their peers and even themselves, and that's one of the underlying themes of 'Hello, My Name is Doris."

In this dramedy, Sally Field plays a sixty-something woman who's mistaken the friendly nature of her much, much younger coworker (Max Greenfield) as a number of romantic overtures. While her friend's 13-year-old granddaughter (Isabella Acres) thinks that's sort of cute and cool and tries to help make that happen, the friend (Tyne Daly) thinks Doris is out of her mind.

Although that's not necessarily true, she's often far inside it as presented by a number of daydreams where she imagines the young stud making his moves on her, thus leaving her frozen in awkward stances and facial expressions when she and the film return to reality. While that's nothing new in terms of being done before in movies, it's too bad writer/director Michael Showalter and co-writer Laura Terruso didn't keep up that tactic throughout the entire 95 or so minutes during which the story plays out.

That's especially true regarding a subplot where the protagonist's brother (Stephen Root) and sister-in-law (Wendi McLendon-Covey) try to convince and then pressure Doris to move out of their recently deceased mother's home. The problem is Doris has lived there her entire life and has become a hoarder at some point.

While the story revelation adds a layer of interest to Field's character (and symbolism of her needing to let go of her past life and move on), that material doesn't always jive with the May-September romance angle. Taking a more fantastical approach (with said daydreams, fantasies and wish-fulfillment) would have tied those two storylines together better.

That said, it's always good to see Field on the screen and she does a fine job with the performance, making us care about her character as she starts to spread her wings a bit, but also while we're uncertain how things will play out for her.

Overall, I enjoyed her and the film enough to give it a recommendation. I just wish everything gelled together better in terms of tone. Likely to entertain baby boomers but be ignored by younger audiences, "Hello, My Name is Doris" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed March 25, 2016 / Posted April 1, 2016

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