A pushy, narcissistic filmmaker persuades a Phoenix family to let him and his crew film their everyday lives, in the manner of the ground-breaking PBS series "An American Family". However, ... See full summary »
Matt Hobbs is a talented but unsuccessful actor. When estranged (and strange) ex-wife Beth dumps their daughter Jeannie on Matt, father and daughter have a lot of adjusting to do. His ... See full summary »
Robert Cole, a film editor, is constantly breaking up with and reconciling with long-suffering girl friend Mary Harvard, who works at a bank. He is irrationally jealous and self-centered, while Mary has been too willing to let him get away with his disruptive antics. Can they learn to live with each other? Can they learn to live without each other? The movie also provides insight into film editing as Robert and co-worker Jay work on their current project, a cheesy sci-fi movie. Written by
Columbia Pictures' decision to allow Albert Brooks to make this film was seen as a surprise to Hollywood as his previous film, Real Life (1979), bombed at the box office. See more »
When Albert is high on Quaaludes, he puts on a record album and the disco hit "A Fifth of Beethoven" comes on. But watch the needle on the turntable - you can see the arm retracting and returning from the spindle while the music is playing. See more »
[on the phone with Jay]
Jay, listen -- I didn't tell you this before, and I think I should tell you now. I love you. I mean, in the right way. I think you're an amazing guy, and I -- I think I just love you.
The ludes kicked in, right?
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This film is not for everyone. If you do not already like Albert Brooks, or are only lukewarm on him, by all means stay away from it. I happen to love Brooks and, hence, this film. But I can understand people getting fed up with it because it's not structured or scripted like a normal movie. The biggest complaint I've heard about it is that all the other characters in it besides Brooks, especially the girlfriend, are mere props for him. That's absolutely true. It's as if Brooks would have preferred to do a long monologue (or a stand-up routine) but then decided at the last minute that he did need people to be present every now and again to bounce things off of. Just so you know what to expect: this is not an "interaction" movie - this is undiluted Albert Brooks coming straight at you for nearly two hours, with all his smarminess, vanity and doggedness firmly in place.
What I love about Brooks, at least in his early movies (i.e. everything before Defending Your Life) is that he is not afraid to totally take upon himself the traits which he means to ridicule. He's often been compared to Woody Allen but I think the differences are important. In all his films, Woody Allen takes himself to task, relentlessly analyzes and criticizes himself, shows us his weaknesses and flaws, etc. - but then undercuts it all by playing for our affection with his cutesy physicality and his meant-to-be-adorable one-liners. Brooks doesn't *want* you to love him, he delights in heaping one annoying trait after another upon himself and portraying it to its full, uncensored extent. He doesn't do one-liners or gags - instead, he embodies the personality of someone who would be the butt of such gags or one-liners, and the embodiment is what is meant to be funny.
For example, in this movie, there is an amazing 15 minute sequence near the beginning where Brooks, having just dumped his girlfriend, putters around his apartment pep talking himself into feeling good and succeeding only in becoming more and more miserable. The delusion and self-absorption on display is monumental, and it's given a kind of grandeur by the amount of time focused upon it - you could almost label the scene "The Narcissist's Aria." It's annoying as hell, and I couldn't blame anyone for being totally turned off by it. And yet, that annoyingness is exactly the point, and what makes the scene so hysterical. Brooks' performance here is nothing short of brilliant - the kind which would surely take home an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Comedy if such a category existed at the Oscars.
Think of Albert Brooks here as George Costanza on "Seinfeld" - only with his monomania squared simply from having no close friends to interact with and bring him down to size. If that seems like torture to you, keep right on moving when you see this one in the video store aisle. However, if you always secretly wondered what George would be like if he got his very own show - well, here's the closest approximation of a pilot episode that you're ever likely to find.
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