Here’s an unusual, somewhat irreverent comedy written, directed and starring Albert Brooks. I’m an off-again/on-again fan of Brooks, and I guess I was feeling on-again so I had a look – plus I find that title just too curious to pass up. Here I found Albert Brooks on-again. I was laughing during almost every scene. The production glows of a certain drab charm, dry humor that will keep a smile on your face from the purposely awkward beginning to the anti-climactic ending. Almost as a crowning event, there’s a scene where Albert finally gets to do ten minutes of stand up in New Delhi, India. I was at first apprehensive, I was worried, but as it played out… I laughed my socks off. This is a very funny film.
Funny is good, but was Brooks trying to make a wider political statement? It certainly seemed like he was. Could at least a “message” or “theme” of some sort be salvaged from the seemingly silly, almost believable plot line? As the film comes to an abrupt nearly senseless ending (certainly unfulfilling), many viewers will no doubt shake their heads and say: “Just another guy from SNL that doesn’t know how to end a darned skit.”
Okay, so it was me that said that. Anyway, I take it back, or maybe I take it back, that is, I’m not sure. Apparently, I so wanted a message from the film that I noodled it in my sleep and I came up with a possible scenario for which the film did have a good, solid, strong, clear theme. So true this theme, in fact, that it was hard for me to see it: “Some Americans are so damned stupid/egotistic/close-minded when it comes to understanding other cultures. In fact, it’s easier for them to make weapons than to make any real friends over borderlines.” Of course, unfortunately, this affliction isn’t unique only to Americans, but this is probably a good time in history for us (Americans) to realize it about ourselves. And in what better way than with comedy? Couldn’t the world use a little laughter about now?
I absolutely would have given this film a solid A, but even (assuming I’m correct about this theme issue) if that ending was strong on message, it was weak on punch … so I’m nudging the overall grade to an A-, which is still recommendable. Really, I’m recommending it, go see it. Just remember, laughter may be the best medicine, so when it comes to yourself, your culture or even your religion take the light-hearted approach and laugh.
This film screened at a Laemmle Theatre.
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