Wendy Greene Bricmont
Albert Brooks (Randall)
Leelee Sobieski (Jennifer)
Carol Kane (Mrs. Benson)
Michael McKean (Bob)
Lisa Jane Persky (Sheila)
Mary Kay Place (Patty)
John Goodman (Benjamin)
Desmond Harrington (Randy)
Rutanya Alda (Woman at Apartment)
mpaa rating: R
release: October 12,
availability: VHS -
Depressive, multi-pierced goth
Leelee Sobieski and uptight store manager Albert Brooks befriend
each other and learn Valuable Life Lessons.
Yeah, but hold on a sec. The
movie -- crappy and sappy as it often is (let's start with the
awful title) -- benefits massively from the two leads it's lucky
enough to have. It can be enjoyed by fans of Brooks or Sobieski
(I'm a fan of both; do the math); the rest of the movie can be
easily ignored. And there's so very much to ignore.
The utter patness of pretty
much everything in the script. The way Brooks' sad-sack but quietly
witty character is given not one but two plot-shaking
revelations. The way Sobieski's character morphs from a surly,
Plath-reading goth to a more tastefully clad young lady -- the
change is roughly akin to Ally Sheedy's shift from mope-goth
to well-scrubbed girl with a frickin' ribbon in her hair
in The Breakfast Club. The way the script gets well-nigh
everything about the goth scene wrong, from the music to the
hang-outs to the fact that Sobieski must be the only mope-goth
in history not to chain-smoke cloves.
recommends this movie?
Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski.
That really is all you need. Sobieski is working with a script
without the slightest whisper of deeper-than-surface understanding
of goth, but she brings a grumbly goth sensibility to her early
scenes anyway. And even when she pretties up near the end, we
accept it as her way of progressing to a new form of individuality
-- she still dresses primarily in black and visits graveyards.
Brooks is betrayed by the script eight ways to Sunday, but he
brilliantly triumphs over it. Even in the midst of the mawkish
plot turns, he's as hilarious as ever -- he does one of the funniest
spit takes in the history of spit takes, and he invests each
line with a distinctly Brooksian dry wit that makes it sound
written expressly for him.
work well together?
They work magic together.
The moment they meet in Brooks' clothing store, the movie had
my enthusiastic permission to be just them talking in a room
for two hours, or six hours, or whatever. Unfortunately the movie
doesn't pan out that way. But Brooks and Sobieski start with
some wonderfully intuitive and combative rapport -- if he were
younger or she older, it'd be the beginning of a beautiful romance
-- and gradually thaw towards each other, building mutual respect,
yada yada. The script requires that, but it would mean nothing
if we didn't feel it, and their friendship is so bizarre
and unlikely that, as enacted by Sobieski and Brooks, it feels
not only plausible but inevitable.
give any examples of the script's gimme-a-break factor without
I'll try. Brooks helps Sobieski
get her own apartment -- a nice, roomy crib with no roomies,
on what she makes helping out at the store? Gimme a break. Sobieski
also has cartoonish divorced parents: Carol Kane as her insanely
chipper mom (whose boyfriend is played with maximum smarm by
Michael McKean), John Goodman as her '60s-throwback dad. We get
it: she had little or no helpful parental guidance, and gets
what she needs from Brooks. The daughterless Brooks, in turn,
plays daddy to Sobieski. Late in the game, Sobieski meets a figure
from Brooks' past, and, well, let's not go there. Though well-played
by Desmond Harrington, the character is a little much -- the
movie seems to be racing towards an uplifting, Tuesdays with
Morrie finale, throwing credibility screaming over the side.
proud to have this disc in your collection.
Yes, because I'll never get
tired of watching Brooks and Sobieski discover that they've never
met anyone like one another. Even the sappily-written scenes
involving Brooks and Sobieski shine just because they involve
Brooks and Sobieski. The actors earn the couple of salty drops
you may shed at the end -- the script sure doesn't.