Overdue Look at a Brilliant Comic Mind and a Most Audacious Spirit
Albert Brooks has always been criminally underrated, first as a stand-up comic, then as a filmmaker and casting himself as the leading man, and finally as a character actor in other people's movies ("Broadcast News", "Drive"). His off-the-ledge audacity and unique sense of the absurd didn't go over with everybody, but he is revered by fellow comics and those of us dazzled by his laser-sharp wit. It was smart to have his best friend Rob Reiner direct and interview him in this fleet but invaluable 2023 documentary. Their casual rapport not only helps offset some of the more zealous comments from his celebrity fans but provides insightful context to the most memorable moments of his career including two of my favorite films, "Lost in America" and "Defending Your Life". They also delve into his fascinating star-studded childhood when his successful comedian father died at a Friars Roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It made me wonder if it was Brooks' idea for his character to die in the opening moments of "Private Benjamin" when his zealous bridegroom has a fatal wedding night coronary while having sex with Goldie Hawn. After all, he finds humor in the least likely situations.
Reviewed by hayley965 / 10
Rob Reiner likes his friend Albert Brooks
There's a danger in saluting your friend to an audience. Especially when you commit your adulation to film. And then sell it for showing to the masses. I kind of see Albert Brooks as a better looking forerunner to Larry David. He's turns annoyance and insecurity into an art form.
But as original as he may have been in his early days , he was often better in other director's material like Taxi Driver and Broadcast News.
The film is more of a friendly chat between long time pals than a serious dissection of Brooks impact on comedy. Honestly, some of the bits Brooks did as a kid killed Rob's dad's friends but struck me as "had to be there" moments.
In sum, it's not a terrible documentary but unless you are a comic nerd, it's a bit dull.
Reviewed by Denoument3 / 10
A huge letdown: Two fantastic filmmakers tell, rather than show
Coming from Rob Reiner about Albert Brooks, this film is a huge letdown. Two fantastic filmmakers tell, rather than show.
This is NOT a documentary, but rather a filmed conversation, illustrated by archive photos and videos, occasionally interrupted with short praises coming from celebrity fans and very few actual collaborators.
Hopefully, someday, parts of this material will be used in a real documentary about Albert Brooks. A documentary that will do more than just recycle the already seen bits and pieces.
Reiner fails to show us the genius of his lifelong friend. Instead, he gives us a never-ending, uninspiring, and predictable paean. Combined with the impression of a very limited production budget, one gets an idea that this draft for a film was made in a great hurry.