film reel image

film reel image

Friday, November 24, 2023

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life 2023 * * * Stars


Albert Brooks (whose real name is Albert Einstein) is a comedian/actor/director/screenwriter who has had a career spanning over 50 years. I mean everyone knows who Albert Brooks is. You might have seen him in Broadcast News or This Is 40 or Out of Sight or Drive (as have I). His brand of humor or egregiousness is as dry as the Sahara desert. His air is sardonic. Yeah, you either get it or you don't (and I do). Albert Brooks: Defending My Life is a documentary about Brooks, with the 76-year-old entertainer in diverting Greek chorus mode. It's like "Defending's" director (Rob Reiner) said, "Albert, I stopped by to shoot a flick about what makes you tick. Hope you don't mind". Entrancing.

Now does Albert Brooks: Defending My Life have rules? What rules, there are no rules. I mean you could watch this thing from the middle, beginning, or end and never be out of the loop. It maunders. And is "Defending" basically an 87-minute, rinse, repeat of Albert talking about his life experiences as he sits with helmer Reiner at some random restaurant table? Yeah but whatever. Their present day stuff is intercut with archive footage and interviews with people that aren't rent-a-celebs but actual celebs. Seems reasonable to me.

With "Defending", everybody talks about Albert Brooks like he's a genius comedian so yeah, this could feel like a vanity stunt. The key word meaning "could". Despite the wandering narrative, hasty coda, and loose structure, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life has a certain whimsical flavor to it, with Reiner not wanting to glorify Brooks but rather celebrate his legacy via some languid, living funeral (Albert is doing just fine by the way). 

Call it a cinematic guy's day out. Call it a "look at me", new-found gimmick. Call it affixed phooey. I call Albert Brooks: Defending My Life recommendable. I don't "defend" any retractor who doesn't feel the same way. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment