Matt Gerson on "Mother"
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Matt Gerson's "Angle on Movies"


Iím Matt Gerson with four Angles for adorable Los Angeles-style angst, where the glib technique of finding a motherís writing casts suspiciously total light on a motherís and sonís dialogue of the death: Mother, by Albert Brooks, and the world according to hound dog Albert, full of self-conscious, wide-eyed incredulity, yet comic self-awareness that never ends.

Debbie Reynolds walks away with a sure Oscar nominated charm and disarming wit, while decimating any supermarket she sees with trying to find the most low-cost items in the world, while Albert is himself as always, mulling over life with a face looking like heís strangling on a pickle, who goes into a near-neurotic state of mysterious standoffedness when the subject of consuming meat is mentionedóla-laóbut nothing can rival his joustings of comedy with rapier-like barbs with his one and only mama, a truly complex lady, subtly sinking her two cents into everything he does, from his science fiction writing to his big-headed creatures, no doubt based on what his mother always told the neighbors and anyone else around about his head.

The more a stranger the more she seeks bizarrely their approval by opening up to them, by telling all of Albertís secrets.

Meanwhile, after a hilarious dance of Woody Allen as L.A. style, complete with angst and self-doubting that churns like motherís two-year-old salads in John--Albert Brooksísóstomach, meanwhile John is in a nonstop obstacle course, meeting bimbos a la carte, on the rebound from yet another run in the divorce court for Albert, with his ex taking all the furniture and not paying a cent of the lawyer bills, and yet again he meets Ms. Ditzy, in a sequence that will send pangs of knowing to anyone who has never hit it off at first with a date from outer space.

Mother is thoroughly intelligent and yet silly at times, with oddball mom who saves twenty-pound cheeses from when she was a child, and uses mystery peanut butter and brand X cut rate everything, like thereís still a depression in the world that she vividly remembers from the age of two.

Debbie Reynolds is spunky and equally opinionated as her number two writer son, the lost one, who couldnít be perfect like her favorite, Jeff (played by Rob Morrow of Northern Exposure and Quiz Show fame), the super-successful sports agent who canít let a day or an hour go by without telling mother heís had a new six-figure talent deal lined up and who desperately needs the security blanket of bringing his mother to see his family casa, including a frozen wife who canít fathom his desperate, day in and day out, come to visit please need for mom.

Albertís John Henderson, the one mom is embarrassed over and tells the world constantly about so everyone knows his business and the score of his divorce tally and strikeouts with women, humiliates himself and yet somehow basks in the knowledge of the end of just why his mother wonít respect and adore him like shallow Jeff, through the relatively transparent device of a hat box full of manuscripts that his mother has hid and, of course, John finds one day, the secret chronicle of her life, never published, and making her grow to resent John for going on to do moderately successful sci-fi (but heís no Steven King, she tells everyone).

His worlds, featuring characters with big heads trying to relate and get attentionócould he be working out his own inflicted by mother traumas in a comic vein in his fantasy land of weird, misshapen beings locked in this world? We wonder.

Mother is really full of enough jokes about packrat tendencies of mothers to save everything, frozen in time from decades past and then serve it up to less than thrilled sons who dread embalmed food, with enough ďla laĒ jokes about alienation at the malls and mother opening up Johnís neuroses to every jean sales attendant who is anywhere in motherís path to fill us with the sting of recognition.

Why is building up and resentments and little rages the cross we bear constantly when mommy gets too close for too long, and how but in Hollywood could an epiphany of self-discovery come from putting back together John (Albertís) teenage pad and moving in with mother to find out why she canít communicate or appreciate truly or, God knows, understand his inner needs?

Mother is worth four Angles and Debbie Reynolds will get a sure Oscar nomination, unwittingly sinking and tormenting her son and then having him discover the lost bond of mother-son writers that tore and may someday repair, albeit with comedy that tickles with the recognition of overbearing presence of mother.

Iím Matt Gerson with my Angle on movies.

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