HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS

— by Jeff Schultz

One of our Fox-11 Entertainment anchors raved about this movie, mostly because of Sally Field’s star turn. Field, as usual, shines. But it was another name that got me into the theater: Michael Showalter, a genius of American comedy, whether as actor, writer, or here as writer-director. And although this is a very safe, very predictable, slightly bittersweet tale of an impossible, one-sided romance, it’s as embraceable as the lovable almost-loser at its center. There’s a big hurdle to get past here: Sally Field is 69 (and playing a role close to that age). The object of her workplace crush, drop-dead-handsome and charming Max Greenfield, is 35. We are asked to believe that Doris could think a relationship between them is a possibility. That leads to fish-out-of-water scenes such as Doris at an EDM concert, embraced as hip despite her cluelessness — and warnings from her best friend (a spectacular Tyne Daly — maybe the best performance in the film) about the pitfalls of what she’s getting into. You can see the heartbreak coming, twice, and it’s easy to figure out how it will all wind up. But getting there is delightful, thanks to a cast that, besides Daly and Greenfield, includes Stephen Root (kind of villainous at first, but then touchingly emotional), nasty Wendy McLendon-Covey (from TV’s “The Goldbergs”), and cool alt-musician Jack Antonoff. (Sadly, Rich Sommer of “Mad Men”, is completely wasted.) The very last line in the very last moment at first seems calculated, in that studio-imposed way, to send the audience home in a good mood. But as I think back on it, that moment doesn’t have to lead to a phony, fairy-tale ending. It could simply be a kind gesture, and that’s enough.

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