Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.


Albert Brooks


Albert Brooks, Monica Mcgowan Johnson (as Monica Johnson)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Albert Brooks ... Robert Cole
Kathryn Harrold ... Mary Harvard
Tyann Means Tyann Means ... Waitress
Bruno Kirby ... Jay
Jane Hallaren ... Ellen
Karen Chandler Karen Chandler ... Neighbor
Dennis Kort Dennis Kort ... Health Food Salesman
Bob Einstein ... Sporting Goods Salesman
Virginia Feingold Virginia Feingold ... Bank Receptionist
Thelma Leeds ... Mother (as Thelma Bernstein)
Candy Castillo ... Drugstore Manager
James L. Brooks ... David
George Kennedy ... George Kennedy / Zeron
Rick Beckner Rick Beckner ... Zeon
Jerry Belson Jerry Belson ... Jerry


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 Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Robert was madly in love with Mary. Mary was madly in love with him. Under the circumstances they did the only thing they could do... they broke up. See more »


Comedy | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Second of five cinema movie collaborations of the two unrelated "Brooks" - Albert Brooks and James L. Brooks. The films are Real Life (1979), Modern Romance (1981), Terms of Endearment (1983), Broadcast News (1987), and I'll Do Anything (1994). 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 »


Robert Cole: [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.
Jay: The ludes kicked in, right?
See more »


References Nickelodeon (1976) See more »


Written by Dennis Wilson, Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher
Performed by Joe Cocker
Courtesy of A&M Records
See more »

User Reviews

A good romantic-comedy with some unique twists on the formula
11 March 2021 | by Jeremy_UrquhartSee all my reviews

Pains me to admit it but I could relate to Albert Brooks' character in parts of this. The swinging back and forth between optimism and despair right after a breakup hit kind of hard. Also: a part late in the film where thin and his sort-of girlfriend sort of argue, and Brooks' character is unable to end it in a way that will leave things fully at peace... that was relatable too.

All that said, the most entertaining parts were probably the sequences where Brooks worked as an editor on what looked like a gloriously stupid sci-fi film starring George Kennedy.

Overall: it's not perfect, and I think it does owe maybe a bit too much to the kind of movies Woody Allen was making around this time. But I did like a good deal of the humour, and a romantic-comedy that investigates the final stages of a relationship is refreshing, considering most standard romantic-comedies focus on the early days.

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Release Date:

13 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Modern Romance See more »

Filming Locations:

Idyllwild, California, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,225, 15 March 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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