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I am an Albert Brooks fan and find his movies to be genuinely funny, however some people are not as tickled as am I by writer/director’s subtle, low-key humor. Brooks’ movies are generally observation comedies that recognize the human foibles and neuroses to which we are all subject. Of course, Brooks always plays the most neurotic characters in his films, and over the course of his career has gotten his neurotic timing down to hilarious perfection. In MOTHER ($30) Brooks portrays John Henderson, a modestly successful middle age writer, who is coming off of his second divorce. Not understanding his repeated failure with women, John decides to go back to square one and figure out what went wrong with his relationship with the first woman in his life- namely his mother.

As part of a big experiment, John moves back home with his mother Beatrice (Debbie Reynolds), hoping that the move will allow him to attain a lasting relationship with a woman, as well as cure him of a case of writer’s block that has prevented him from starting a new book. At first, John and his mother mix together as well as oil and water. However, things start to change when they begin to view each other as people, instead of in their roles of mother and son. MOTHER has moments of genuine hilarity that any adult who deals with his or her own mother can relate. All the characters in the film are flawed, but they always seem very human and very real. I don’t think that Debbie Reynolds has ever done finer work in her career as a film actress than she does in MOTHER. This wonderful performance drew rave reviews from critics and has since revitalized Reynolds’ career for films and television. Reynolds plays exceedingly well off Brooks and she perfectly embodies that portion of motherhood that always seems to say the one thing that will embarrass their child the most. The cast of MOTHER also includes Rob Morrow, John C. McGinley, Paul Collins, Isabel Glasser and Lisa Kudrow.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made MOTHER available on DVD in a wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Framed at 1.78:1, MOTHER looks quite nice for a modestly budgeted comedy. Image quality is pretty solid, with the picture appearing crisp and detailed. Blemishes on the element are never really a problem, however a patina of slightly noticeable film grain does appear throughout the film. Neither the colors, nor the flesh tones ever appear over saturated, yet both remain appealing. Additionally, there are no signs of chromatic distortion or bleeding during the presentation. Blacks are accurately rendered and the picture produces a respectable level of shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts keep a low profile throughout.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack features a pretty standard comedy mix, with very few directional effects and the film’s musical score making the only real use of the discrete channels. Dialogue reproduction is clean and precise, so you should never miss any of the jokes, unless, of course, you were laughing over them as I was. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, a well as a theatrical trailer.

MOTHER is a wonderfully funny and real movie that every Albert Brooks fan will want to add to their collections. This film is also a good starting point for the uninitiated, who wish to experience their very first Brooks comedy.





DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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