HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS review

So… there’s a bit of a story here as to why I saw it. First off, I had made plans to eat at Umami Burger in Hollywood, and then go see I SAW THE LIGHT later on. Having nearly two hours to kill after eating this delicious Alton Burger with a side of sweet potato fries coated in maple bacon, my schedule for work was released and guess one of the movies we’re playing: I SAW THE LIGHT. Thought to myself, “damn it! I drove all the way to Hollywood for a movie I was going to see anyway at work???” But then I remembered another movie was playing around the time I intended to see I SAW THE LIGHT and decided that’d be the next best alternative. So with that being said, this is my honest opinion of HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows an older woman named Doris Miller (Sally Field). Her mother recently passed away, whom she has lived with her entire life. However, Doris hasn’t exactly been the most mentally stable, becoming something of a hoarder of useless things and socially inept around those that aren’t her immediate family or friends. However, her world gets turned upside down when she meets the newest employee at her job, John Fremont (Max Greenfield), a handsome young man that Doris immediately is attracted to. After accompanying her friend Roz (Tyne Daly) to a motivational speaking seminar, she is inspired to romantically pursue John.

(REVIEW)

Oh man… alright, so it’s not really a bad film, but I do have some major problems with it.

Eh, let’s start with the good. I have to say, with the exception of the Amazing Spider-Man films, the only set of movies I’ve seen with Field are the Homeward Bound films (for the record, the first one is last great live-action talking animal movie) as Sassy the cat. Beyond that, I’m not overly familiar with her work, but this movie makes me wish I was. Field is unbelievable! She plays the role of a mentally disturbed but hilariously socially awkward person like you wouldn’t believe. In fact, her performance is so believable at times, I completely forget that it’s just acting. She perfectly transitions from goofy and quirky, to crazy and dramatic.

The first fifteen, maybe twenty minutes is bar-none the most hilarious parts of the movie. There’s a scene with Doris and Roz walking an indoor track when a younger jogger cuts through and is rather rude to the two ladies. Roz, in a fit of rage, races after the young woman threatening her. But the young woman is obviously fit and manages to constantly stay ahead of Roz and mocks her, having little to no effort spared to keeping out of Roz’s reach. The chase is held just long enough to let it be as hilarious as possible before Roz keels over to a wall, panting for breath.

There is even a bit of charm in the whole “making a fake Facebook profile” all in the name of stalking John and figuring out what he likes. Tries out this band that plays a genre of music that may not always be part of the 60+ crowd, gives it a listen, starts off looking like an older person would when listening to something not of their generation, and then excitedly starts gyrating and finds herself rather attached to the music. It’s pretty freakin’ funny.

Oh, and there’s this other scene when the the boss of Doris’ job replaces the office chairs with yoga balls. As Doris is inspired to take her first steps in being closer to John, she decides to deflate her own yoga ball. As John runs out to get his bike pump, Doris is caking on the makeup. John comes back and starts pumping the ball. As you can imagine, there’s both verbal and physical innuendos that were surprisingly funny. Usually, I don’t gravitate toward this humor, but I was laughing pretty hard by the scene’s conclusion.

Well, I think I’ve talked about all the good stuff that I can. It’s time to address the problems I had.

To start easy, I noticed that Beth Behrs (co-star of TV show 2 BROKE GIRLS) was one of the first names credited in the opening. She is also one of the first names credited on IMDb, RottenTomatoes, one would think that would make her one of the central characters in the movie, right? Uh, no. Her character, John’s girlfriend, Brooklyn, doesn’t show up until about thirty minutes into the movie, and out a ninety plus running time, she has an accumulation of probably less than ten minutes worth of screen time. Her character is literally just to be an additional obstacle in Doris’ way, which is, A) lazy writing, and B) a waste of a good actress. That’s not even to say how poorly written her character is either.

***SPOILERS***

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Doris sends a Facebook post from her fake profile to John as her alter ego that implies that they were together once. Since this post is obviously public, it’s inevitably seen by Brooklyn. She storms into John’s office at work and basically breaks up with him, causing a scene. Of course, John defends himself, saying that he doesn’t know this fake person, but Brooklyn seems disturbingly disinterested in believing anything but that weird-ass post. While her character was already thin at best, this whole situation makes her seem incredibly stupid.

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***END SPOILERS***

Also, the running joke seemed to be this: Doris is crazy, but quirky. While that gimmick flies for the first twenty minutes to half an hour, it does grate after a point. Particularly after the concert she goes to. It’s by this point that Doris is now taking her stalker act a little too far and a little too obvious to the point where believability is effectively shot to hamburger meat. She’s now smiling too big, staring at John with her eyes too wide, lingering on a watching him as she simply closes a door, it gets shockingly uncomfortable.

To make matters worse, this is one of those worlds where the obvious is somehow not obvious and perceived to be “quirky.” Um… no, anyone with half a brain would see how she’s obsessing over John and I doubt he would take it sitting down.

***SPOILERS***

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Similar to how he actually doesn’t later on in the film. Yup, here’s one of the cardinal sins of the movie that I saw coming the moment the whole “fake account” thing started: the liar-reveal (credit given to Doug “the Nostalgia Critic” Walker for giving the terminology). Yup, after spilling her proverbial guts out to John toward the end about her feelings for him, she practically admits that she sent the Facebook post that ultimately ruined the relationship he was in and he takes it not well, like a regular person.

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***END SPOILERS***

But the cardinal sin for me of this movie is the ending.

***SPOILERS***

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As soon as everything gets revealed to John about what she did to him and Brooklyn, John distances himself from her and she goes home to contemplate her actions and what it means. After some consoling, she decides she’s going to go through all the hoarded stuff in her mother’s home and decide what to keep and get rid of, a recurring plot-point in the story involving her psychiatrist. This part of the story concludes when she has cleared out the home to a shell and eventually quits her job too. She apologizes to John for her actions and basically ends on an ambiguous note as to what her future might hold.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, for me, it’s the way that it’s handled. See, it’s no big secret that Doris is mentally disturbed. There’s no blame for it, but a lot of the film depicts her as obsessive. She can’t let go of anything in her home, as it’s been her home all her life, she takes things off the street for herself, as well as a pencil once belonging to John, she’s a woman who doesn’t deal well with things that she can’t have. John represents the one thing she wants most, as well as the thing she has to work hardest to get. But when it doesn’t pan out, suddenly it’s like a flipped switch and she’s rather sporadically capable of letting other shit go. This is wrong to me.

Look, I’m not an educated man. I never studies psychology in school. But I like to think I’m worldly enough to know that if there’s a person that’s really like this, sudden epiphanies don’t happen like that. Mental instabilities, like an addiction, isn’t something just magically overcome. You realize there’s a problem, you accept help for that problem, and then begins an uphill battle to overcome that problem. While all that is clearly there, it’s all done through a montage. The leap from “rejection from John” to “clearing out her mom’s house” is probably five minutes, the montage itself being two minutes. This is supposed to be a big moment for Doris and the audience is given less than ten minutes to see her development, which should have been the focus of this story’s climax, or at least would have been a more compelling one.

Not to mention, there’s almost no meaningful consequences for her actions against John. He’s clearly uncomfortable with what she did and one apology in and he almost forgives her thanks to the final two seconds of the film. The story should have ended right at the end of Doris’ fantasy of John forgiving her. This could have been interpreted as a personal goal for her to be better for not just the people around her, but for herself as well. Fine, she can still be in love with John, but her actions against John are pretty damning. Brooklyn didn’t get an apology from Doris, despite that she’s just as involved in the events that transpired, and Brooklyn treated Doris like a friend, which is incredibly mean-spirited if you think about it. In short, Doris is let off the hook too easily. Consequences of our choices need to have weight, so lessons can be learned and mistakes not repeated and I feel like that message was tossed away.

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***END SPOILERS***

While I find if hard-pressed to fully hate this movie, it’s just not as good as I had hoped it’d be, especially considering such a strong start. Field is undeniably phenomenal in this role, but this story gets so incredibly weak as it progresses, it flat-out nose-dives at the end. Not a bad film, I suppose, but there’s only so much good that it brings to the table. If your a fan of Field, or the supporting TV actors (Behrs from 2 BROKE GIRLS, and Greenfield from NEW GIRL) then I might recommend this you. But as for me, I saw it once, I think once was enough. Not unhappy that I saw it, but… yeah, not again.

My honest rating: 3/5

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4 thoughts on “HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS review

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