MOTHER

(1996)
With Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds, Rob Morrow
Co-Written and Directed by Albert Brooks

Reviewed by JB

"What's the matter, they didn't have 'New Nuts'?"     Sometime in the latter half of the 21st Century, long after most of us have passed on, the planet we knew as Earth, if it is still around, will discover Albert Brooks movies and make him the huge star he always should have been.  And they will declare MOTHER to be the greatest Albert Brooks movie ever, because even in the latter half of the 21st Century, mothers and sons will still be wondering what makes each other tick.  My friend Steve Bailey may disagree with this (he has his own tribute site to the Albert Brooks classic LOST IN AMERICA), but those denizens of the future will be right - MOTHER is the greatest Albert Brooks movie.  It is certainly the one that makes me laugh the most, all the way through.

     Albert Brooks is a naturally funny guy and his co-star, Debbie Reynolds, matches him joke for joke and gag for gag. Their running conversations throughout the film, in which Brooks as a writer is trying to understand his women problems by examining his relationship with his mother,  are hilarious.  If I had to give up everything else and only pick one sequence in an Albert Brooks film to preserve, it would be the "frozen lettuce and Sweet Tooth Sherbet" scene from MOTHER in which Reynolds keeps offering him a variety of distasteful, stale food ("Where did you get this, the Smithsonian Commissary?"). But then how could I leave out the scenes of Reynolds trying to figure out how to use a video phone, call waiting or a supermarket parking lot?  Or the shopping scene itself in which she and Brooks bicker about overpriced food (he prefers expensive organic peanut butter while she buys the generic "New Taste" brand? 

     But the film goes deeper than just one-liners, as Brooks examines a son who wants something from his mother that she may not be able to give him - peace of mind.  Reynolds may be wonderful at playing what seems to be a ditzy woman, but she is equally good when we (and her son) learn she is actually a fairly deep person, one who has a valid psychological reason for feeling so distant from her son.  Nancy Reagan and Doris Day were both asked to do the film before Brooks settled on Reynolds, but as great as it would have been to see either of these two ladies come out of retirement, I am glad it went to Reynolds.  She is the best comic partner Brooks ever had in a film, and it is surprising that she did not even get an Academy nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 

     Yes, LOST IN AMERICA is the classic Albert Brooks film, and all of Brooks' other films such as DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, THE MUSE and even LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD all have moments of hilarity and deserve to be seen.  But MOTHER is the one that is going to bring about that Albert Brooks revival I talked about.  See me in 50 or 60 years and tell me I'm wrong. 4 - JB

Comedy     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON

"Ooh, I have Call Waiting (beep) Hello?"
"It's still me, Mother."
(beep)
"Hello?"
"Still me..."
(beep)
"Hi?"
"Why do you even pay for this feature?"

Stuff You Gotta Watch
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Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee