In what feels like a dreadfully long overdue return to comedy, Sally Field is the complete charmer we’ve always known her to be in 2015 SXSW hit Hello, My Name is Doris. Her recent career successes have been as first lady Mary Todd in Lincoln (earning another Oscar nomination) and the television melodrama Brothers and Sisters. Even her superhero entries were on the dour side with the ill-fated Spider-Man reboots having her cast as a sobbing Aunt May. This return to levity is so welcome that Doris, framed squarely around the actress’s winning screen presence, can be forgiven for it’s occasional thinness and sitcom-y predictability.
Doris is like if the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of recent Zooey Deschanel stereotype never found a sad manchild to help “save her from herself.” Her lonely circumstances and hoarding behavior mean she keeps mostly to herself, save a domineering brother (Stephen Root) and a headstrong best friend (Tyne Daly). But Doris is also a dreamer, living more in the fantasies she creates for herself than in the world around her – until she falls for a new man in the office (Max Greenfield) significantly her junior. A fast friendship with the beau brings a gaggle of youthful dimwits into Doris’s fold and her pining brings her out of her shell. The elements here sound ripe for something crushingly sad or slapstick silly, and the film tries to have it both ways.