What's new

HBO Max ALBERT BROOKS: DEFENDING MY LIFE (Rob Reiner, 2023) (1 Viewer)

JoeStemme

Screenwriter
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
1,001
Real Name
Joseph
Not as much a documentary as two old friends having a long discussion. It's Rob Reiner's MY DINNER WITH EINSTEIN.

Einstein here is, of course, known to the world as Albert Brooks. Reiner and Brooks have been friends for some 60 years. It's a very chummy look at his life and career. The clips are good, if not long enough to really capture Brooks' sense of humor. The guest interviews include a lot of mutual friends such as Larry David, Judd Apatow, Steven Spielberg etc. and they never hit very deeply either. Brooks fondly recalls his show business upbringing as his parents were both performers (curiously, Brooks' late brother, comedian Bob Einstein, is given almost no mention at all).

Most interesting here are the pre-SNL and Tonight Show footage showing the young Brooks developing his routines on variety programs hosted by the likes of Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers and Helen Reddy. Brooks is working out his thoughts on the nature of comedy itself. His act occassionally veers into Andy Kauffman level conceptual art - with a less dangerous edge, perhaps. Even in this nascent stage, Brooks' greatest strength is that his “characters” are really just himself. What sets Brooks apart from most comics is his willingness to be unlikeable - often, deeply so. Narscistic. Venal. Mean. Conceited. It's that lack of traditional warmth that explains why for such a famed and lauded creator, he's only made seven films over a 50+ year career (although it's never directly explored here). Of course, it's Brooks' sarcastic humor and intelligent irony that has made him an icon.

DEFENDING MY LIFE is an enjoyable look for fans of Brooks but don't expect anything probing or challenging (curiously, unlike his actual work).
 

Ronald Epstein

Founder
Owner
Moderator
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 3, 1997
Messages
66,687
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
I watched this last week after seeing Brooks and Reiner on Bill Maher's show. It's a good watch.

I grew up watching a lot of Albert Brooks on talk shows. Always thought he was "good" but never "great." Still, I immensely enjoyed him for some reason and a lot of the included clips (particularly the one with the talking electronic "Buddy" featured on Carson) brought back a lot of memories.

I was surprised the documentary didn't touch upon one of his most iconic cameos in "Twilight Zone: The Movie"

And I am glad this documentary was brought up here because I have a beef with it (and similarly others) which was part of a recent discussion I had with a friend...

I am tired of these documentaries featuring other comedians who go over the top with their praises of a comedian (such as in this case) like Albert Brooks. "The best that ever was!" "There was never anyone like him before and there will never be anyone like him after." These are all paraphrased but are the kind of ridiculous statements that comedians like Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman (to name a few) feel they have to make when interviewed for someone who is being honored in a documentary.
 

Joe Wong

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 8, 1999
Messages
2,693
I watched this last week after seeing Brooks and Reiner on Bill Maher's show. It's a good watch.

I grew up watching a lot of Albert Brooks on talk shows. Always thought he was "good" but never "great." Still, I immensely enjoyed him for some reason and a lot of the included clips (particularly the one with the talking electronic "Buddy" featured on Carson) brought back a lot of memories.

I was surprised the documentary didn't touch upon one of his most iconic cameos in "Twilight Zone: The Movie"

And I am glad this documentary was brought up here because I have a beef with it (and similarly others) which was part of a recent discussion I had with a friend...

I am tired of these documentaries featuring other comedians who go over the top with their praises of a comedian (such as in this case) like Albert Brooks. "The best that ever was!" "There was never anyone like him before and there will never be anyone like him after." These are all paraphrased but are the kind of ridiculous statements that comedians like Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman (to name a few) feel they have to make when interviewed for someone who is being honored in a documentary.

I had a similar reaction, Ron.

I don't have a lot of exposure to Albert's work (except for a couple of his films, which I admire for their gentle, relatable humour rather than being gutbusting laugh-fests), but from the beginning pretty much realized this was going to be a love-fest, given his friend Rob (who I also admire) was producing this documentary.

In spite of the overdone adulation, I was still open to the idea of Albert being a breakout comedian from his early days. Maybe I hadn't seen his best or funniest stuff.

I liked some of the early clips, but as it went on, I thought, "Is this his funniest stuff?"

Humour is subjective, of course, but this documentary didn't convince me.
 

JoeStemme

Screenwriter
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
1,001
Real Name
Joseph
And I am glad this documentary was brought up here because I have a beef with it (and similarly others) which was part of a recent discussion I had with a friend...

I am tired of these documentaries featuring other comedians who go over the top with their praises of a comedian (such as in this case) like Albert Brooks. "The best that ever was!" "There was never anyone like him before and there will never be anyone like him after." These are all paraphrased but are the kind of ridiculous statements that comedians like Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman (to name a few) feel they have to make when interviewed for someone who is being honored in a documentary.

Agreed. And, as I noted in my piece, the fact that Reiner has been Brooks' friend for six days gave the whole project a chummy best buddy feel.

It has the form of a documentary, but it's really an endorsement and a tribute more than a pure doc. Still, I enjoyed watching it


albert1.jpg
 

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2009
Messages
3,413
Location
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
Speaking of Albert Brooks i hope Real Life gets released on Blu-ray. It's one very funny film and have seen it many times. I will try and watch the documentary.
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
18,928
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
I watched this last week after seeing Brooks and Reiner on Bill Maher's show. It's a good watch.

I grew up watching a lot of Albert Brooks on talk shows. Always thought he was "good" but never "great." Still, I immensely enjoyed him for some reason and a lot of the included clips (particularly the one with the talking electronic "Buddy" featured on Carson) brought back a lot of memories.

I was surprised the documentary didn't touch upon one of his most iconic cameos in "Twilight Zone: The Movie"

And I am glad this documentary was brought up here because I have a beef with it (and similarly others) which was part of a recent discussion I had with a friend...

I am tired of these documentaries featuring other comedians who go over the top with their praises of a comedian (such as in this case) like Albert Brooks. "The best that ever was!" "There was never anyone like him before and there will never be anyone like him after." These are all paraphrased but are the kind of ridiculous statements that comedians like Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman (to name a few) feel they have to make when interviewed for someone who is being honored in a documentary.
This is a very common thing. Any time an actor or comedian goes on a talk show, they act like that person is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The host(s) act like they've seen and love everything they've ever done, when it's usually pretty obvious they've never actually seen much if any of it.

I know Brooks is a comedian, but I really only know him as an actor, with an especially active sense of humor. He's always been great in every role I've seen him in. He was such a great, ruthless mobster in Drive. It reinforces my belief that comedic actors play the best evil characters. I've always loved Defending My Life, and one of my favorites of his is a movie probably three people have seen, My First Mister. I looked it up, and according to imdb, it grossed less than $600K globally. In particular, he has a scene where he confesses his struggles with life that just knocks me out. I relate a little too much with that scene.

...and... it's been so long since I watched Taxi Driver, I have zero recollection that he seems to play a major character.

I found that scene from My First Mister. It's a terrible, 240 line capture, but it gets the point across. The guy really is quite an actor.

 

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
11,681
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
This is a very common thing. Any time an actor or comedian goes on a talk show, they act like that person is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The host(s) act like they've seen and love everything they've ever done, when it's usually pretty obvious they've never actually seen much if any of it.

I know Brooks is a comedian, but I really only know him as an actor, with an especially active sense of humor. He's always been great in every role I've seen him in. He was such a great, ruthless mobster in Drive. It reinforces my belief that comedic actors play the best evil characters. I've always loved Defending My Life, and one of my favorites of his is a movie probably three people have seen, My First Mister. I looked it up, and according to imdb, it grossed less than $600K globally. In particular, he has a scene where he confesses his struggles with life that just knocks me out. I relate a little too much with that scene.

...and... it's been so long since I watched Taxi Driver, I have zero recollection that he seems to play a major character.

I found that scene from My First Mister. It's a terrible, 240 line capture, but it gets the point across. The guy really is quite an actor.



Yes, the things that separate Brooks from other comedians are his acting, writing, and directing. He is a filmmaker and not every comedian has these skills. His stand-up stuff and bits he would do on talk shows were good but he really takes off with his films. I admit, I am a longtime fan so, this documentary/tribute worked for me because I have an appreciation for his work. I think in the beginning/early days some people saw him as some sort of Woody Allen-lite. Like a less philosophical version of Woody and more focus on the insecurities of the characters. His stand-up routines were funny because they were nutty and absurd but he was even better with his films.
 

Andybrucia

Auditioning
Joined
Jan 2, 2024
Messages
1
Real Name
Andy Brucia
Hmmm... watched this last night, and while I enjoyed seeing good friends Rob Reiner and Albert Brooks talk about Brooks' impressive and varied body of work, something has been bugging me.

I watched this because I am a big Brooks fan. Loved his bits on talk shows and stand up, loved his films, and think he is a strong actor, stronger than he gets credit for. He has always been different, similar to Charles Grodin in some ways. I thought Defending Your Life was terrific, and he was great in Broadcast News.

First, I thought it felt like a 'In Memoriam" type of show, except he was sitting there. Weird vibe for a fairly avant-garde comedian who is still with us. If all of those famous people offering effusive praise were to stop by the table later in the show looking for the money he promised, THAT might have been more like Albert Brooks. But this was Reiner's thing, and I get it.

I thought it was also strange that there was quite a bit of talk about his performer father and mother, but almost NONE of his fairly famous brother- Bob Einstein, who really had multiple performing careers, first (that I recall) as Super Dave Osborn, a sort of tongue-in-cheek response to Evil Knievel, and 30 years later as Marty Funkhauser in Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Considering Bob Einstein died in 2019, had his own avante garde comedy career parallel to Brooks, and was his brother, I had to wonder why they didn't talk about him, his death, his work, at least as much as they did his father and mother.

All in all, it was loving tribute to a truly unique artist from his good friend, and I guess someone shouldn't have to drop dead to hear how awesome he is. But I did think at the end, THAT would have been a perfect Albert Brooks bit.
 

Adam Lenhardt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2001
Messages
27,018
Location
Albany, NY
I thought it was also strange that there was quite a bit of talk about his performer father and mother, but almost NONE of his fairly famous brother- Bob Einstein, who really had multiple performing careers, first (that I recall) as Super Dave Osborn, a sort of tongue-in-cheek response to Evil Knievel, and 30 years later as Marty Funkhauser in Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Considering Bob Einstein died in 2019, had his own avante garde comedy career parallel to Brooks, and was his brother, I had to wonder why they didn't talk about him, his death, his work, at least as much as they did his father and mother.
I think because HBO previously did a documentary on him:
 

Ronald Epstein

Founder
Owner
Moderator
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 3, 1997
Messages
66,687
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
Until reading Adam's post, I had no idea that Bob Einstein was Albert Brook's brother.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Sign up for our newsletter

and receive essential news, curated deals, and much more







You will only receive emails from us. We will never sell or distribute your email address to third party companies at any time.

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
356,990
Messages
5,127,828
Members
144,226
Latest member
maanw2357
Recent bookmarks
0
Top