|07.10.12||Netflix|| Albert Brooks plays a neurotic nincompoop habitually self-destructing his relationship.|
I appreciate how Brooks in this movie - and really his whole career - is unafraid to portray a character that is not exactly likable. It's a really weird flavor of romantic comedy where the guy in every scene consistently whines and does generally annoying things, but you end up liking the movie anyway. Well, mostly liking it.
My favorite parts involved his newly-separated desperation to change up his life and how easily every salesman sees and exploits it. Brooks' brother as the sportingwear salesmane is great, upselling him on running shoots, sweatpants, wrist wallets, and everything else in the store. That whole sequence is pretty great. The constant suspicion and needling that he does towards his girlfriend about if she's seeing somebody else kind of grated on me after a while though.
This movie was made in 1981 and for some reason seems way more dated than any other movie made at any time to me. It's constantly checking manual tape answering machines that he has to turn on or off, stopping at pay phones to call people, driving around LA in his little Porsche eating at restaurants with oversize laminated menus and referring to his relationship as "going together." Plus his job as an editor dealing with film on a flatbed rig and old analog mixing studios doing foley work and his excessive stomach, chest, shoulder and back hair all scream a different time to me. It's really strange that this should strike me as weirder than some 40s noir or 60s Sirk movie but for whatever reason it does. It feels more early 80s than my own personal memory of that time (granted I was a little kid but whatever. those memories are deeply embedded!) I also have Lost in America which I've seen before but not in a long time. It'll be interesting to see if I find that movie, which I believe takes place all over the country, as dated.
So... an interesting movie with a handful of moments. James L. Brooks was also great as the director Brooks' character works for. I liked how they had him working in the AIP building even though his seeming success and Porsche and whatnot were a tad bit incongruous with working on cheapies. He also mentioned being at Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon wrap party so maybe he was doing this movie as a favor or somehting like that. I'm definitely thinking too much about this. Oh, Super young Bruno Kirby as his assistant editor. That was cool.
Anyway, decent movie. I doubt it'll stay with me like Defending Your Life and my distant memories of Lost in America ("Nest Egg!!!") but it wasn't bad.