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After two failed marriages, a science fiction writer (Brooks) decides coming to terms with his mom will improve his chances for a successful relationship, so he moves in with his mom (Reynolds). Written by
Director/writer/actor Albert Brooks asked Nancy Reagan (who used to act under the name Nancy Davis) to play the part of his mother. Nancy really wanted to come out of acting retirement to play the role, but declined because she couldn't bear to be away from husband and former president Ronald Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Also on Brooks' list of former actresses to play his mother was Doris Day, but she showed no interest in coming out of acting retirement. Brooks is an old friend of actress/writer Carrie Fisher, and he knew her famous mother (Debbie Reynolds) through her. (Debbie used to try to pair Albert and Carrie off for marriage.) Brooks was looking for a big-name actress from the past and called Fisher to see if she thought her mother would accept the role. Fisher said yes, as did Reynolds. See more »
When John is reading his mothers transcript of the story she wrote in her youth we see that she has misspelled the name of the Whitman's candy company as Whittman. See more »
I normally don't like Albert Brooks comedies because his humor is subtle, and sometimes, so sarcastic that it seems to me, that he tries too hard. He often comes off like a gigantic dufus who's every character, is always the over-looked, but honest and quite nice guy (see Broadcast News). Here, he is once again, the same character.
However, in watching this movie with my folks, I found it to be quite a funny little comedy about a grown man who tries to connect with his mother. Brooks plays John, a writer who is recently divorced. Suffering from writer's block, probably due to his recent 'problems,' he decides that he needs some sort of emotionally reinvigorating experience. One in which he is in search of "something," but he doesn't really know what it is. Sort of like, he'll know it when it happens.
He goes to spend some time with his widowed mother, Beatrice, played by the lovely Debbie Reynolds. They seem like exact opposites, she is timid, and somewhat flaky. He is rather pushy, and often, sarcastic. She appears more provincial; he comes off as more modern. It doesn't seem like they're related at first, because they're so different.
What might've started as a desire to find some inspriation to write by cooling off from a divorce, becomes a 360 drive to reconnect with his mother, and work out their innocuous differences in personality, outlook, humor, and so forth, until mother and son finally understand one another. This may not be clear to either intially that this will eventually be the ends to the vacation.
Rob Morrow plays John's equally annoying brother, a "mama's boy" type who frequently contacts Beatrice, trying to get her to be more modern and everything else like John does, but at the same time, not trying so hard to force it on her, and also, not trying like John to resolve anything laden in their relationship that may be troubling them. Though, it seems to be suggested that there is a slight "Oedepis Complex." But, Rob Morrow is only a subplot, and kind of an aggravating character at that. Beatrice seems so pleasant, and so well...motherly.
The strange reformations that John and his mother take on are quite amusing. The bit, for example, in the beginning when John first arrives at his mother's house, and she doesn't seem to have anything he likes to eat. Or, when they go to the mall together, and he tries to stop her from always feeling obligated to explain everything to strangers (like her son is a middle aged divorced man with writer's block). It's really cute. According to the trivia, Nancy Reagan was considered for Debbie Renynolds' role, which would've probably been played wonderfully by her. Some of things that Reynolds's (like the restaurant scene) is hilarious with the cursing and all of that as she becomes impatient with her son John's wanting to change her every moment.
Basically, the whole movie is Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds. John McGinnley and Lisa Kudrow show up for a minute role as the best friend and blind date (respectively). It might be worth watching for older audiences. I watched it with my folks, and they really seemd to enjoy it (they usually don't like Albert Brooks movies, either). It's worth a try.
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