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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
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 »
[selecting a prop for the space film he's working on]
How much would you say this weighs?
I don't know. Maybe it doesn't weigh anything - did you ever think of that? Maybe it's on one of those planets that doesn't have any gravity.
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I do like Albert Brooks. As an actor. As a writer and director, his movies fall short of funny, happy to be amusing. Modern Romance is par for the course.
Only in the exchange with Medowlark Lemon does the movie come close to explaining Brooks' neurotic obsession with his girlfriend: she's out of his league. We don't know enough to understand why she's with him; the movie is more interested in his antics. Not only is Brooks' character narcissistic, his movie is too.
The foley scene, the shopping excursion, the Hollywood party are all deftly handled and expertly underplayed. I truly believe that Brooks can find the humor in anything. But he's satisfied with too little in his movies, and his disregard for structure (in his early films) is both curious and frustrating. It's as if he thinks he can get away with less if he doesn't seem to be trying as hard.
Essentially, Modern Romance is a 60-minute monologue with some situational humor mixed in. Is he in love with her, or with himself? That may be the point, but that makes me neither marvel nor laugh.
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