PLOT An older woman falls for a workplace colleague half her age.
CAST Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly
RATED R (Language, adult themes)
PLAYING AT Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington; Malverne Cinema 4,; Manhasset Cinemas; Raceway 10, Westbury
BOTTOM LINE Field isn’t just marvelous but potentially Oscar-worthy in this funny, touching comedy-drama.
The delusion starts in a crowded elevator when Doris Miller, a shrinking violet played by Sally Field, 69, finds herself pressed against new co-worker John Fremont, a handsome fellow played by Max Greenfield, 35. His offhand compliment about Doris’ “cool” cat-eye glasses is all it takes to set her heart racing. And at her age, that could be a dangerous thing.
That’s the premise of “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” a winning comedy-drama built around one of cinema’s most endearing leading ladies. Field has been around long enough for more than one generation to fall in love with her — as an iconic American teenager in the 1960s sitcom “Gidget,” as Burt Reynolds’ peppy passenger in “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977) or maybe as her Oscar-winning title role in “Norma Rae” (1979). Field hasn’t lost an ounce of her bouncy personality or comic energy in this terrific little film. If anything, Doris Miller may be (another) role of a lifetime.
It helps that “Hello, My Name is Doris” has some lovely writing from director Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”) and relative newcomer Laura Terruso. Doris, the lone AARP-age employee at a Manhattan fashion company, walks the perfect line between character and caricature. Her pink lipstick and yesteryear blouses make her a figure of fun, but she’s also a compulsive hoarder grappling with a painful past. Field gets strong support from a fine cast, particularly Tyne Daly as Doris’ gruff friend Roz.
The fun starts when Doris gets a Facebook page and, after a little light intrigue, is welcomed into John’s youthful world of hipsters, healers and artisanal knitters. They’re charmed by Doris’ dotty wardrobe and Staten Island location, but Roz worries that Doris is heading for a fall. As for John, he’s a thoroughly convincing New York millennial: amiable, kind and callow.
Though this small-budget film can feel rough around its edges, Field is flat-out fantastic. Whether dancing at a Williamsburg rock club or weeping alone in her bedroom, Doris feels completely real and utterly embraceable. Field, on the verge of 70, may have just seduced another generation.