Released: 25 December 1996 by Paramount Pictures
Starring: Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds and Rob Morrow
Directed by: Albert Brooks
3 stars (out of 4)
Tagline: No one misunderstands you better.
She packed your lunch, tolerated your music and looked forward to the day you’d be happily on your own. If anyone qualifies as unforgettable, it’s Mom.
Albert Brooks is star, co-writer and director of this comic valentine about a twice-divorced author who decides the only way to fix his relationship problems is to move back to his childhood home and resolve the conflicts he had with the first woman in his life – Mom. (from the DVD cover)
Yes, we just celebrated Father’s Day but it got me to thinking about that other parent who recently had a day of her own – and for whom this review would have been perfect – Mother! So here it is, my review of my favorite Albert Brooks movie Mother.
When science fiction writer John Henderson (Brooks) gets home from his latest visit to a divorce attorney, he looks around his empty house (his second wife took almost every piece of furniture) and reflects on his life. After a disastrous date with a young woman he met in a parking lot (Lisa Kudrow) and an unsettling dinner with his sports agent brother (Morrow), John decides his relationship problems stem directly from his relationship with his mother (Reynolds). In order to learn where his life went wrong, he initiates “The Experiment” and moves back in with his mother. From struggling with dietary concerns (blocks of frozen cheese, sherbert under a layer of “protective ice,” and unknown brands) to discovering his mother has an actual love life, John’s relationship with his mother heads down some unexpected paths and to some startling revelations.
The laughs come fast and furious in this little comedy/drama. Brooks and Reynolds make a wonderful team, and this movie rests almost entirely on their shoulders. The comedic timing in their witty exchanges is spot-on, and Reynolds expressions punctuate each scene brilliantly. As Reynold’s Beatrice struggles to understand why her son has moved back in and Brooks’ John struggles to understand why his mother feels the need to explain his entire life to everyone she meets, their conversations will make you laugh out loud. Adding to the humor is Morrow, who does a wonderful job portraying mama’s boy Jeff who can’t go a day without talking to the most important woman in his life. He whines, he clings, and his marriage is suffering for it. But this movie indisputably belongs to Brooks and Reynolds and they carry it off with panache.
Growing older and discovering new aspects of your parents is, I think, something everyone can relate to. With Mother, Albert Brooks has managed to put one of the most important relationships in our lives on-screen and illuminate all its nooks and crannies. And Debbie Reynolds is the light that makes it shine.